The Ambiguity Effect

Understand Your Buyer > How To Get Attention > The Ambiguity Effect


What is it?

The Ambiguity Effect covers the fact that we prefer specific information and knowns to vagueness and unknowns.

Given the choice, we will choose something more specific and defined than not. This is why being a specialist rather than a generalist is a powerful thing in your business.


Why does it work?

It works because we are looking for confidence, certainty and expertise when we buy. If the information or offering appears vague and undefined to us, then it’s less attractive. Given the choice, we would opt for a “boiler specialist” over a general plumber or an Audi specialist garage over a general garage.

Choosing something more specific and known feels safer to us as we are avoiding the unknown and the “risks” that may follow. For that reason, the Ambiguity Effect is also a form of Zero Risk Bias.

How can you use it?

Ensure that when you are communicating with potential clients, you are being as specific as possible. If you can use numbers, dates, facts or any kind of very specific information you will increase your chances of being noticed and increase your chance of engaging the client to buy.

Our book on writing tag lines is entitled How To Write a Tagline: 74 ready to use templates and ideas. If it was entitled The Tagline Bible or The Tagline Book then you are less sure of what to expect as it’s less specific. This alone could cause you to buy or not – however good the book actually is.

Remember: Specifics sell, generics repel.


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