ambiguity effect

“The ambiguity effect is a cognitive bias where decision making is affected by a lack of information, or “ambiguity”. The effect implies that people tend to select options for which the probability of a favorable outcome is known, over an option for which the probability of a favorable outcome is unknown. The effect was first described by Daniel Ellsberg in 1961.”


Some personal examples.

I will often choose a familiar restaurant, even when revisiting a foreign city, where the probably of a favourable outcome, a good meal, is higher. Or I will spend hours researching and reading reviews of restaurants increasing the likelihood of a nice meal. This means I may miss some of the great restaurants as I don’t consider any unknown options, or I choose something within known parameters.

On hiking to a mountain peak, on return I will typically follow the path I followed on the way up, or a path I have taken before. I don’t see this as a negative per se, as I believe it reduces the chances of getting lost or walking off a cliff.

How does the ambiguity effect affect your life?

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