Certainty/possibility effects

Certainty/possibility effects 2018-02-09T11:39:44+00:00

Changes in the probability of gains or losses do not affect people’s subjective evaluations in linear terms (see also prospect theory and zero price effect) (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981). For example, a move from a 50% to a 60% chance of winning a prize has a smaller emotional impact than a move from a 95% chance to a 100% (certainty) chance. Conversely, the move from a 0% chance to a 5% possibility of winning a prize is more attractive than a change from 5% to 10%, for example. People over-weight small probabilities, which explains lottery gambling—a small expense with the possibility of a big win.


Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice. Science, 211 (4481), 453-458.


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