Question: A televised image of a starving polar bear surrounded by melting icebergs had a greater impact on Mr. Young’s perception of the extensiveness of climate change than did a statistical chart summarizing the earth’s temperature over the last two hundred years. This suggests that Mr. Young’s assessment of the climate change issue is influenced by:

  1. the representativeness heuristic
  2. confirmation bias
  3. fixation
  4. the availability heuristic
  5. overconfidence


1.     The correct answer to the question is (d). the availability heuristic.

2.     The reason availability heuristic is the correct answer is due to the fact that Mr. Young overestimated the personal connection he felt with seeing the polar bear in such a poor environment. Obviously there was something in Mr. Young’s past experiences that made him feel more of a connection with the polar bear than the chart (this is probably the case for most people).

3.     (E) Overconfidence is incorrect because Mr. Young isn’t displaying an overestimated belief in what he thinks. He isn’t jumping to conclusions because he thinks he is right. (B) Confirmation bias is also incorrect due to the fact that there is no contradicting evidence in this case. There are simply two different methods of displaying global warming. Therefore, Mr. Young really does not have any contradicting evidence to ignore.

(C) Fixation comes from thinking about using an object in one specific way, without much thought to other methods. It is when someone only thinks of an object in terms of their typical function. This simply does not apply to Mr. Young.

(A) Representativeness heuristic does not apply because Mr. Young is not grouping something based on its characteristics. Representative heuristic involves judging something based on how similar they are to other prototypes.