The Fluency Heuristic
The fluency heuristic is a phenomenon whereby the quicker we are able to process or recall information, the more we believe it.
In other words, the more skilfully an idea is communicated, the more likely it is to be taken seriously, whether or not it is logical.
In one experiment, the first group was asked to write down 3 things they liked about a loved one. The second group was asked to write down 10 things.
Each group was then asked to rate how close they felt to that loved one.
Logic suggests that the group who had written down 10 things would have felt much closer to their loved one. However, the opposite was true.
Why does this happen?
The reason is that it’s quite hard to think of 10 things. By comparison, writing down 3 things is quick and easy.
Your brain thinks, ‘If I can fill the list quickly then that must mean I really like the person’.
The fluency or ease with which you recall the information makes you trust your answer more.
This heuristic has broader implications. For example, shares in companies with easy-to-pronounce names tend to significantly outperform those with hard-to-pronounce names.
Essentially, the quicker we can recall the information the more we believe it.
If you found this post interesting and you want to learn more about similar topics then you might enjoy a course in Behavioural Economics from the charming and talented TED speaker Rory Sutherland.