Stef (firecat) wrote,

Psychological need to reduce ambiguity?

In a new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Arne Roets and Alain Van Hiel of Ghent University in Belgium look at what psychological scientists have learned about prejudice....

People who are prejudiced feel a much stronger need to make quick and firm judgments and decisions in order to reduce ambiguity. "Of course, everyone has to make decisions, but some people really hate uncertainty and therefore quickly rely on the most obvious information, often the first information they come across, to reduce it" Roets says....

It's virtually impossible to change the basic way that people think.
I'm very curious about that last statement. At what point does the "basic way" that a person thinks develop? Is it nature or nurture, and in what proportions? If it's true that some people need to reduce ambiguity more than others, do we know what contributes to that? Is it possible to teach people to tolerate more ambiguity, or to tolerate ambiguity in more situations?

I'm obviously assuming here that tolerating ambiguity would generally be a good skill to have (although I think it might lead to problems in situations where immediate action is required). I really dislike prejudice and the damage it causes, so if training in tolerating ambiguity might help diminish it, I would be in favor.

I think I've learned to tolerate ambiguity a lot better over the years, so my personal experience makes me doubt the assertion that it's impossible to change the way people think. It's possible that being on antidepressants is what made the difference for me, though.

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