Project: Scenarios as a decision-making tool

Contact: Baruch Fischhoff

A scenario is one representative of the universe of possibilities determined by its creator's beliefs. Scenario consumers interpret scenarios to understand what the expert really believes, hoping, with this understanding, to make better decisions. In order to achieve this goal, scenario consumers must interpret scenarios as their producers intended. One threat is ambiguity in scenarios. This paper develops and applies an approach to assessing the risk that consumers cannot get the intended benefits from the scenarios due to their ambiguity. The approach requires formalizing concepts treated informally by scenario producers. It is applied in an experiment, which asks subjects to interpret scenarios, under different contexts, and examines the associated changes in the interpretation of the scenarios - and, to the extent possible, the implications for decisions based on those scenarios.