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Horacio Arlo-Costa, Varun Dutt, Cleotilde Gonzalez, Jeffrey Helzner

The Description/Experience Gap in the Case of Uncertainty


We present empirical evidence indicating the existence of a description/experience gap for decisions under uncertainty. The nature of the gap is different than the one arising in the case of risk but both phenomena depend essentially on the use of limited sampling in experience. While subjects are ambiguity averse in description they are robustly ambiguity seeking in experience. A probabilistic explanation of this effect is provided as well as conjectures about the possibility of studying the effect with descriptive theories like Cumulative Prospect Theory.


uncertainty, descriptive, normative, decisions from experience/description

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Authors’ addresses

Horacio Arlo-Costa
5523 HOWE ST. #2, PITTSBURGH, PA, 15232

Varun Dutt
Department of Engineering and Public Policy
Baker Hall 129
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Cleotilde Gonzalez
Social and Decision Sciences
Porter Hall 223-C
Pittsburgh PA 15217

Jeffrey Helzner
Department of Philosophy
Columbia University
1150 Amsterdam Avenue
708 Philosophy Hall, MC 4971
New York, NY10027

E-mail addresses

Horacio Arlo-Costa
Varun Dutt
Cleotilde Gonzalez
Jeffrey Helzner

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