Economic Theory

, Volume 48, Issue 2–3, pp 399–424 | Cite as

Definitions of ambiguous events and the smooth ambiguity model

  • Peter KlibanoffEmail author
  • Massimo Marinacci
  • Sujoy Mukerji


We examine a variety of preference-based definitions of ambiguous events in the context of the smooth ambiguity model. We first consider the definition proposed in Klibanoff et al. (Econometrica 73(6):1849–1892, 2005) based on the classic Ellsberg two-urn paradox (Ellsberg Q J Econ 75:643–669, 1961) and show that it satisfies several desirable properties. We then compare this definition with those of Nehring (Math Soc Sci 38(2):197–213, 1999), Epstein and Zhang (Econometrica 69:265–306, 2001), Zhang (Econ Theory 20:159–181, 2002), and Ghirardato and Marinacci (J Econ Theory 102:251–289, 2002). Within the smooth ambiguity model, we show that Ghirardato and Marinacci (J Econ Theory 102:251–289, 2002) would identify the same set of ambiguous and unambiguous events as our definition while Epstein and Zhang (Econometrica 69:265–306, 2001) and Zhang (Econ Theory 20:159–181, 2002) would yield a different classification. Moreover, we discuss and formally identify two key sources of the differences compared to Epstein and Zhang (Econometrica 69:265–306, 2001) and Zhang (Econ Theory 20:159–181, 2002). The more interesting source is that these two definitions can confound non-constant ambiguity attitude and the ambiguity of an event.


Ambiguity Uncertainty Knightian uncertainty Ambiguity aversion Uncertainty aversion Ellsberg paradox 

JEL Classification

D800 D810 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Klibanoff
    • 1
    Email author
  • Massimo Marinacci
    • 2
  • Sujoy Mukerji
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences, Kellogg School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Decision Sciences and IGIERUniversità BocconiMilanoItaly
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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