Behavioural bias

It can be difficult to convince people to think about long-term care. It can be even harder to persuade them to do anything about it. This is because there are innate behaviours that act as barriers.

Here are some of the key behaviours you should be aware of:

Type of bias Summary
Projection bias  We struggle to imagine that our future self will be different from how we are today. Trying to imagine a time when we are not capable of dressing unaided or feeding ourselves is challenging. 
Optimism bias  Viewing the world optimistically is a helpful behaviour to cope with life. However it can make people conclude that they’re unlikely to require long-term care. 
Hyperbolic discounting  This is the behaviour that makes it difficult for us to defer gratification. We’re inclined to live for the day. It explains why we struggle to think about something that may not happen for many years. 
Availability bias  Judgements are often made based on examples that come easily to mind. If someone’s parents died without needing long-term care, that person may conclude that they are unlikely to need long-term care. This ignores improvements in life expectancy, which increase the likelihood they will require care. 
Status quo bias  Humans can procrastinate. If there isn’t a compelling reason to act now, why not defer to a later date? The problem with long-term care is that when action is needed, someone may no longer be mentally competent. 
Confirmation bias  This occurs when people focus on information that confirms their beliefs and disregard anything that conflicts with their view. If they don’t believe they will ever need long-term care, they may filter any information they receive to maintain their perspective.  

Other biases may also come into play. Understanding how these biases affect the way people think about care needs could help position the issue more effectively. This could make it more likely that they’ll engage positively with this subject.