Effects of Uncertainty (03-06-17)

Faraji-Rad and Pham wondered how uncertainty affects how people think.  They found that thinking about uncertainty/feeling uncertain increases “reliance on affective [emotional] inputs in judgments and decisions. . . . uncertainty [was] shown to amplify the effects of the pleasantness of a musical soundtrack, the attractiveness of a picture, the appeal of affective attributes, incidental mood states” on judgments/decisions made – for example, the effect of the picture on a television screen on evaluations of that television was influenced by whether the people assessing it were feeling uncertain or not. As the researchers state, thinking about uncertainty/feeling uncertain “increases the effect of momentary feelings on consumers’ decisions and product evaluations. . . . the priming of uncertainty (vs. certainty) increases the relative preference for options that are affectively superior over options that are functionally superior.” The researchers report that “states of uncertainty—that need not be related to the decisions that people face—influence the way people make decisions.”

Ali Faraji-Rad and Michel Pham.  “Uncertainty Increases the Reliance on Affect in Decisions.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.