Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 1-25

First online:

Ambiguity attitudes and social interactions: An experimental investigation

  • Gary CharnessAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of California Email author 
  • , Edi KarniAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Dan LevinAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, Ohio State University

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This paper reports the results of experiments testing prevalence of non-neutral ambiguity attitudes and how these attitudes change as a result of interpersonal interactions. To address the first question we conducted experiments involving individual choice between betting on ambiguous and unambiguous events of the subject’s choice. We found that a large majority of subjects display ambiguity neutral attitudes, many others display ambiguity incoherent attitudes, and few subjects display either ambiguity-averse attitudes or ambiguity-seeking attitudes. To address the second question we designed a new experiment with a built-in incentive to persuade. We found that interpersonal interactions without incentives to persuade have no effect on behavior. However, when incentives were introduced, the ambiguity neutral subjects were better able to persuade ambiguity seeking and ambiguity incoherent subjects to adopt ambiguity neutral choice behavior and, to a lesser extent, also ambiguity averse subjects.


Ambiguity aversion Ambiguity attitudes Ellsberg paradox

JEL Classification

D81 C91 C92