TitleThe Ecology of Uncertainty: Sources, Indicators, and Strategies for Informational Uncertainty
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsSchunn, CD, Kirschenbaum, SS, Trafton, JG

Informational uncertainty is a very prominent and multifaceted feature of many complex tasks. Previous work has found some important distinctions for what features of information uncertainty influence behavior, but overall the literature has had little to say about expert performance in a domain on real tasks or has presented views that may be very domain-specific. By carefully examining deep commonalities in three different domains and expert behavior in those domains (meteorological forecasting, fMRI data analysis, and submarine operations), we present general but detailed taxonomies for what are types of sources informational uncertainty, what kinds of indicators experts use to diagnosis the level of uncertainty in a given situation, and what strategies experts use for reducing or dealing with informational uncertainty. The taxonomies structure future research on behavior under uncertainty, education in domains of high uncertainty, and the design of artifacts that support problem solving in domains of high uncertainty.

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