The ambiguity effect says that we try to avoid uncertain outcomes. Still, many products are selling well excactly because they give uncertain outcomes. One example is Kinder Eggs, and many similar candies\toys. Some shops also get rid og their spare products by selling them in 'surprise bags'.

Why do people like buying products with uncertain outcomes, if the ambiguity effect is true?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Isn't the propensity of people to get addicted to gambling not opposing this theory? Novelty seeking opposes it too. Quite frankly, I don't understand the premise of this question. Especially so since an expected surprise is not a surprise... Maybe I'm missing something O.o $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 18:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Christiaan FWIW, The functions of ACh and NE have been cast in terms of "expected uncertainty" vs. "unexpected uncertainty" (e.g., here). And the reason why novelty seeking doesn't necessarily oppose this idea is addressed, e.g., here ("the dark room problem"). Don't know if this helps clarify things. $\endgroup$
    – mrt
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 23:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @mrt that sounds like an answer $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


There is no ambiguity as such with respect to expectations in those examples. When you buy a Kinder Egg, you know up front you won't know what's in there. In other words, it's perfectly unambiguous that you don't know what to expect from a Kinder Egg.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.