Celebrities seem to be marrying other celebrities all the time. Think about Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, or Victoria and David Beckham. This is likely because like attracts like, they hang around in the same circles, and understand the lifestyle that comes with fame. Or is it something else, something that can be beneficial to the health of a non-celebrity like yourself if used in the right way.

Golden Behaviors

– Nudges for a Healthy Lifestyle –

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Celebrities date other celebrities all the time. The media even keeps track of the most exciting new celebrity couples. Even if you are not up to date to the latest romances, you are probably familiar with some of these famous couples: Beyoncé and Jay-Z (both famous for their music before they met), Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (famous for Reality TV and famous for his music before they met), Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (both famous movie stars before they met), and David and Victoria Beckham (famous soccer player and member of the Spice Girls). So why is that? Celebrities tend to marry other celebrities because they share similar interests and values, and they understand the lifestyle that comes with fame. Additionally, they are often in the same circles and have access to the same resources, which makes it easier to maintain a relationship. Like attracts like, as they say.

Why Celebrities Always Seem to Marry Other Celebrities

While it may seem that celebrities marry other celebrities all the time, they in fact don’t do so very often. There are far more celebrities marrying non-celebrities. And even most celebrity couples only got to be celebrity couples because one of the spouses was famous. Not because both were famous when they got together. Think Barack and Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham.

I asked Chat GTP for the top 10 most famous people and then asked to add their partners. Below is the list of the most famous people and their partners. Out of this list, only Beyoncé and Jay-Z were both famous before they met. And maybe the partner of the Daila Lama does not belong in this list: Jetsun Pema is his sister. All other partners where not famous before they met. Eight out of nine of their partners became well-known after their relationship began. Many of us think that celebrities marry other celebrities most of the time, because the examples are easily recalled. This is known as the availability heuristic.

  1. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama
  2. Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham
  3. Bill Gates and Melinda Gates
  4. Beyoncé and Jay-Z
  5. Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn
  6. Elon Musk and Grimes
  7. Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez
  8. The Dalai Lama and Jetsun Pema
  9. LeBron James and Savannah James
  10. Lady Gaga and Christian Carino

Availability heuristic

The availability heuristic was first explored by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1973. It is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to mind about a specific topic, concept, method or decision. The availability bias operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important. Or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled. People tend to heavily weigh their judgments towards more recent information, creating beliefs biased on the latest news.

What is the chance to die from shark attacks? Examples of sharks attacks easily come to mind, even if it is only from the movie Jaws. Examples of dog attacks come to mind far less easily. That is why every time a swimmer is killed by a shark, the number of deaths by drowning goes down for a few years, before returning to normal levels. The effect occurs because reports of death by shark attack are remembered more vividly than reports of drownings, so people are more cautious when swimming. However, being killed by a dog is more than 5 times as likely as being killed by a shark. You probably have a feeling of how unlikely it is to be killed by a dog. You encounter dogs all the time and (hopefully) never seen a dog kill someone, you are likely feeling rather save around dogs.

What is the chance to die from gun violence? Examples of high school shootings in the United States easily come to mind, whereas examples of suicides come to mind far less easily. This is because deaths from gun violence are much easier to remember than suicides. However, gun owners are more likely to use that gun on themselves than on intruders. David Studdert from Stanford Law School and his colleagues found that men who own handguns are eight times more likely to die of gun suicides than men who don’t own handguns, and women who own handguns are 35 times more likely to die of gun suicides than women who don’t.

What is the chance that you are cleaning the house more than your partner? Are you cleaning the house together with your partner? Than this may sound familiar. Psychologists Michael Ross and Fiore Sicoly asked spouses to assess their contributions to keeping the place tidy. The contributions from both spouses added up to more than 100%, because each spouse remembered their own contributions more clearly than those of the other because of the availability heuristic. This is because examples of your contributions to keeping the house tidy easily come to mind, whereas examples of contributions from your partner come to mind far less easily.

The inner workings of the availability heuristic

Schwarz and his colleagues (1991) investigated how the availability heuristic affected people’s decision process. They asked people for six (or twelve) examples in which they behaved assertively. Next, people evaluated how assertive they were. People who just listed twelve examples rated themselves less assertive than people who listed six examples. Obviously this was the result of the number of examples people were asked to list. To come up with six examples where you behaved assertively is rather challenging, but doable. As a result, you are likely to conclude that you are rather assertive, otherwise you could not have come up with so many examples. On the other hand, to come up with twelve examples of such behavior is very challenging. Try it if you like. As a result, you are likely to conclude that you are not very assertive, otherwise you would have come up with examples to support that belief.

According to Schwarz and his colleagues concluded that you are more likely to experience the negative effects of the availability heuristic if when you are asked to produce more arguments to support an argument. So, you may be less confident that an event was avoidable after you listed more ways it could be avoided. Listing many such reasons is difficult and you might conclude that it was unavoidable. You may be less impressed by a car after you tried to write down many of its advantages. Listing many such advantages may be difficult and you may conclude that it is not such a great car after all. You are more positive about a course or workshop after you have listed more ways to improve. Listing many ways to improve may be difficult and you may conclude that it already is a great course after all.

Why trains always seem delayed

This also explains why trains are always delayed, especially if you are an occasional user of public transport. Examples of delayed trains come to mind more easily than examples of trains that are on time. That is because when everything is going smoothly than we are not paying much attention to the train being on time. After all, that is only normal. However, when trains are delayed, you may need to notify your partner that you are delayed, have to postpone an appointment or miss your connecting train and spend useless time on a train station. Those are moment you remember vividly.

Especially if you are an occasional user of public transport, it will be hard to come up with examples when the train was on time. The occasions that the train was on time are vaguely remembered, if at all, but the occasions that the train was late are vividly remembered, because they confirmed your pre-existing beliefs that trains are always delayed. Because examples of on-time trains come to mind far less easy, you conclude that trains are always delayed. I predict the same effect for frequent train users that travel by car occasionally: they feel that they are always in a traffic jam at a section of the highway that usually does not have any traffic jams.

When you are most likely to use the availability heuristic

You are most likely to fall for the availability heuristic in two situations: First, when you are multitasking. That are the situations that you are not focusing, and semi-automatic decision making kicks in. You may be reading about a recent shark attack in Australia and cross off Australia as your next summer holiday, because you do not realize how are these shark attacks are.

Second, when you are a novice and not an expert. As a novice you are not aware of the relevant characteristics. You are not informed about the relevant statistics. When reading about a high school shooting, you may not realize how much people die from guns, because you don’t take into account the number of deaths from gun suicides.

If you are aware of these two situations, you are less likely to experience the negative consequences. So when making decisions, focus on one task at the time, carefully do some research about the topics, look up the numbers, weight the pros and cons carefully, and sleep on it for a day or two. Then you are less likely to experience the negative effects of availability bias, because you avoided the availability bias altogether.

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Niels Vink (1975) is author of Golden Behaviors and behavioral designer. He uses insights from the behavioral sciences to explain why people often act against their own interests. As a behavioral expert, he explores how you can nudge your behavior for a healthy lifestyle. He has Master degrees in Social Psychology (Leiden University) and Industrial Design Engineering (Delft University of Technology) and holds a PhD in Consumer Behavior.

When you have been inspired to start and maintain your Golden Behaviors, reach out to me.

Source of top image: Photo by Danik Prihodko via Pexels


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