Motivating Uncertainty

The Motivating-Uncertainty Effect is a phenomenon in which introducing a degree of uncertainty to a reward system can enhance its appeal and increase the interest people have in completing a task successfully This effect comes from our intuitive and emotional responses to questions of probability and risk. Research has found that uncertainty is more powerful than certainty in boosting motivation towards a goal, making us work harder, spend more and enjoy more in the process.

Studies have shown that when assessing the reward path to take, people are risk-averse, preferring a reward that's certain over one with an uncertain outcomeHowever, when it comes to motivation, we tend to be more motivated by rewards of unknown magnitudes than by known rewards because the uncertainty makes it feel like a game. Knowing this effect can be useful for marketing teams who want to use promotions and rewards programs with uncertain outcomes to their advantage We can avoid the Motivating-Uncertainty Effect by focusing on the uncertain reward instead of on the journey to achieve that reward.

One reason for motivating uncertainty is the human desire for control and predictability. When faced with uncertainty or ambiguity, people may feel anxious or uncertain about the outcome or future events. In order to reduce this anxiety and regain a sense of control, people may feel a need to take action or make a decision. This can lead to a desire to gather more information, make a choice, or take some form of action.

Another factor that can contribute to motivating uncertainty is the psychological principle of loss aversion. This is the tendency for people to place a greater value on avoiding losses than on acquiring equivalent gains. When faced with uncertainty, people may be motivated to take action in order to avoid the potential loss of not taking action. For example, if someone is uncertain about whether to invest in a particular stock, they may be motivated to make a decision in order to avoid the potential loss of not investing.

Motivating uncertainty can have a number of consequences, including influencing decision-making and shaping behavior. It can also lead to a lack of caution or consideration, as people may feel a need to take action or make a decision quickly in order to reduce the uncertainty. In some cases, this may lead to hasty or impulsive decisions that may not be well-informed or well-thought-out.

Read more:

Motivating-Uncertainty | Convertize | Neuromarketing Glossary

Motivating-Uncertainty Effect - Coglode

Motivating-uncertainty effect: can uncertainty ever be good?

When uncertainty can be motivating - Fast Company

Motivating-Uncertainty Effect - The Decision Lab