Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 115-147

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Aggregating imprecise or conflicting beliefs: An experimental investigation using modern ambiguity theories

  • Aurélien BaillonAffiliated withErasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • , Laure CabantousAffiliated withESCP Europe
  • , Peter P. WakkerAffiliated withErasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam Email author 


Two experiments show that violations of expected utility due to ambiguity, found in general decision experiments, also affect belief aggregation. Hence we use modern ambiguity theories to analyze belief aggregation, thus obtaining more refined and empirically more valid results than traditional theories can provide. We can now confirm more reliably that conflicting (heterogeneous) beliefs where some agents express certainty are processed differently than informationally equivalent imprecise homogeneous beliefs. We can also investigate new phenomena related to ambiguity. For instance, agents who express certainty receive extra weight (a cognitive effect related to ambiguity-generated insensitivity) and generate extra preference value (source preference; a motivational effect related to ambiguity aversion). Hence, incentive compatible belief elicitations that prevent manipulation are especially warranted when agents express certainty. For multiple prior theories of ambiguity, our findings imply that the same prior probabilities can be treated differently in different contexts, suggesting an interest of corresponding generalizations.


Ambiguity Conflicting sources of information Source of uncertainty Beliefs Belief aggregation Prospect theory

JEL Classification

D81 D83