Uncertainty Reduction Theory
When faced with a new experience, people are hesitant to jump in feet first. When that experience is also unclear with an uncertain outcome, it can cause people cognitive stress. In short, people avoid the jump entirely.
The theory originated around how people communicate. How we approach and form new relationships with people using interpersonal communication.
The same interaction can be applied to how technology and companies communicate with people. People tend to avoid options that are ambiguous or have uncertain outcomes. Preferring to stick to what they know or avoid the experience altogether. By making expectations and new experiences clearer it encourages people to choose them over other options.
The more uncertainty people feel, the more information they need to help them through the process.
Uncertainty arises in two ways:
When we are unsure of the beliefs and attitudes of the new interaction
When we are unsure what is expected of our behaviour, especially when it is completely new to us. We tend to fall back on social norms in these interactions.
Read paper: Sia, C., Tan, B., Luo, C. Getting to Know Websites through Uncertainty Reduction Strategies: Which Strategies Are Used More, and Which Are Better? An Empirical Study of First-Time Visitors
Read paper: Shin, Soo., Lee, K., Yang, S-B. How do uncertainty reduction strategies influence social networking site fan page visiting? Examining the role of uncertainty reduction strategies, loyalty and satisfaction in continuous visiting behavior