Celia Gaertig and Joseph Simmons have published a paper titled, "Do People Inherently Dislike Uncertain Advice?" The authors focus on the longstanding research finding that individuals prefer confident to uncertain advisors. Individuals generally don't want take advice from someone who does not appear self-assured. Gaertig and Simmons extend this research by examining the question: Do people exhibit an aversion to uncertain advice itself?
The scholars studied advice evaluation in a series of studies focused on issues such as sports predictions, finance, and weather. Their findings proved remarkably consistent. Indeed, people evaluate confident advisers more favorably than those who appear uncertain and hesitant. However, people do not necessarily dislike uncertain advice. Here is an excerpt from their paper:
In eleven studies, we found that people do not inherently dislike uncertain advice. We observed this in studies of sports, weather, and stocks. We observed this in studies that operationalized uncertain advice as imprecision, as statements of numerical probability, and as statements of non-numerical uncertainty. And we observed this in studies in which people directly evaluated the advice and in studies that asked people to choose between an advisor who provided certain advice versus one who provided uncertain advice.
This paper gives me comfort. It shows that people are quite capable of sifting through advice, and recognizing the merits of advice couched in the form of probabilities. We do not expect complete certainty. That's a good thing, as I believe we should be skeptical of advice and predictions that seem to express absolute certainty. We just might be more rational than some people think!