If You can Tolerate Ambiguity Then You’re More Likely to Trust People

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The ability to tolerate ambiguity varies from person to person and that ability can impact how we interact with the world around us. The intolerance of uncertainty contributes to one’s anxiety and some researches think that individuals strive to make their lives more certain for comfort. Indeed, there has been research into views on uncertainty and political views. In these uncertain times it’s helpful to think about how people think about uncertainty.

Brown University just released a study on the connection between ambiguity and tolerance trust levels in relationships. People who can cope with vagueness demonstrate more prosocial behaviour in terms of trusting others.

Tolerance of ambiguity is distinct from tolerance of risk. With risk, the probability of each future outcome is known, said Oriel FeldmanHall, author of the study and an assistant professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University. The many unknowns inherent in social situations make them inherently ambiguous, and the study finds that attitudes toward ambiguity are a predictor of one’s willingness to engage in potentially costly social behavior.

That incomplete knowledge, she said, means “social exchanges are rife with ambiguous — and not risky — uncertainty: we can’t apply specific probabilities to how a social exchange might unfold when we don’t have certainty about whether the person has trustworthy intentions.”

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