Examination of the effects of elicitation method and outcome domain on ambiguityattitudes

Date of Award

June 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




David Kellen

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


In decision making under uncertainty, researchers consider people’spreferences for options with uncertain or unknown probabilities. Ellsberg (1961) suggested that people prefer certain options to uncertain option because they are averseto theambiguityof the uncertain option. A wide literature on ambiguity has developedsince Ellsberg’s initial work. In this literature, researchers have developed differentelicitation methods to understand attitudes towards ambiguity. However, there is noclear consensus on the rates of these attitudes. Studies have reported rates of aversionto ambiguity that ranges from 10% to 70% of the sample, but these studies use differentelicitation methods to elicit ambiguity attitudes. To see if different methods canproduce the same attitudes from an individual, we had participants from two differentsamples complete a matching probability method and uncertainty equivalence method.From these elicited responses, we estimated source functions to understand ambiguityattitudes at different likelihoods and outcome domains. The two methods produced thesame group-level rates of attitudes, but individuals produced different source functionsin the two methods. Individuals were more optimistic in the losses domain than thegains domain, and the mixed-outcome domain was a compromise between the two. Therole of attribution attention is considered in explaining the individual differences


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