Irrationality due to salience bias
Or why people do too much of what is already abundant
People keep doing more of what is already abundant and miss the opportunities to do more of what is scarce and necessary. The salience bias is one of the reasons for this.
For example, we live in a time of information overload. People keep producing information in copious quantities and not necessarily better quality. Ironically, this is the motivation for this post.
A business open to the public is more salient than work detached from final product users. The Java backend developers working in their basements do not receive the same attention as the lifestyle influencers in the attention economy or the restaurants they publicize.
Abundance impacts salience too:
What is abundant is visible. The idea of opening up a restaurant is easier to come up with when there are many in your area, and everybody seems to be going to them constantly.
What is scarce is less visible, it may not even exist. Thinking about online stores was hard before the .com bubble and the success of Amazon. Not so much after Shopify, Etsy, and other similar platforms.
The result is a feedback loop: abundance results in salience and salience implies abundance, as people choose to provide more of what is salient. Eventually, production hits diminishing returns, and with enough momentum, it may overshoot as a bubble. If the bubble popping causes downward momentum, the result is a bullwhip effect, which may look like trends or generations.1
The following figure shows the way a cycle may look like:
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