Weighing risk and uncertainty

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Tversky, A., and Fox, C.R. (1995) Decision theory distinguishes between risky prospects, where the probabilities associated with the possible outcomes are assumed to be known, and uncertain prospects, where these probabilities are not assumed to be known. Studies of choice between risky prospects have suggested a nonlinear transformation of the probability scale that overweights low probabilities and underweights moderate and high probabilities. The present article extends this notion from risk to uncertainty by invoking the principle of bounded subadditivity: An event has greater impact when it turns impossibility into possibility, or possibility into certainty, than when it merely makes a possibility more or less likely. A series of studies provides support for this principle in decision under both risk and uncertainty and shows that people are less sensitive to uncertainty than to risk. Finally, the article discusses the relationship between probability judgments and decision weights and distinguishes relative sensitivity from ambiguity aversion.

Tversky, A., and Fox, C.R. (1995). Weighing risk and uncertainty. Psychological Review, 102, 269-283.