Making The Cloud Transaction Psychologically Secure: Overcoming The Availability Heuristic

Making The Cloud Transaction Psychologically Secure: Overcoming The Availability Heuristic

A cognitive heuristic is a shortcut our brains employ when forming beliefs or making decisions (Reber and Reber, 2001). An availability heuristic is a type of shortcut designed to make decisions quickly based on information already existing within one’s mind and assumed to be accurate. This is great time saver with everyday events but results in a lot of failures when making decisions about something more hidden from our awareness. The choice involving cloud computing is an example of how a limited mindset can create bias and poor decision making.

Limited Imaginations Equal Faulty Beliefs

The science behind the availability heuristic theory is heavily researched and universally accepted. When writing about the how the availability heuristic can go wrong Schneier, (2008) references two of the many studies dealing with the availability heuristic. Tversky and Kahneman’s (1973) study demonstrated that 70% of the time participants will guess wrong when asked which is more likely, words that begin with the letter K or words that have K as the third letter. Since humans can more easily imagine words beginning with K we feel comfortable with our guess yet there are more than twice as many words with K as the third letter.

In another study Carol, (1978) asked participants to imagine a particular candidate winning an election. One group imagined President Ford and the other Carter. Both groups were later asked who they thought would win the election. Most often participants picked the candidate they imagined earlier winning.

If we could observe one’s millisecond reasoning leaning on the availability heuristic while addressing the cloud it’s negative view would sound something like, “There. There is my critical data where I can see it, fix it, and move it whenever I see fit.” The reality of malfunctioning software, hardware, or stolen data are much more distant and uncomfortable for thinker to employ.

Filling in the Blanks of Client Imaginations

By picking up where the imagination leaves off you may be able to put yourself in a better position to help a potential client correctly assess their decision making process. Keep in mind that when we use availability heuristic the process is outside of our conscious awareness so there are no direct routes to allay resistance. However a well-timed question could help a client discover more accurately where his or her resistance lies.

The next time you encounter some form of resistance try asking a question like, “Walk me through a scenario where this proposal could be a bad decision for you.

The answer may surprise you and the client and can put both of you in a better position to try the case more objectively.

By Don Cleveland

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Although relatively new to technology writing Don Cleveland has been writing and working in the fields of business and psychology over the last 25 years. After earning his B.A. in psychology at the University of South Florida he has returned to finish an M.A. in counseling. His passions are shining psychology’s empirical light on the world of computing and work through research and writing.

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