“I’m Uncertain: What Should I Do?”: an Investigation of Behavioral Responses to Everyday Life Uncertain Situations

  • Gioia BottesiEmail author
  • Eleonora Carraro
  • Anna Martignon
  • Silvia Cerea
  • Marta Ghisi


People might employ unhelpful coping strategies to manage uncertainty, such as over-engagement, under-engagement, and impulsive behaviors. The current study explored the association between prospective and inhibitory intolerance of uncertainty (IU), negative urgency (NU), worry, and behavioral responses to everyday life uncertain situations. A sample comprising 130 undergraduates completed self-report measures assessing the above-mentioned constructs and general distress; among them, 69 underwent an in vivo uncertainty induction and then evaluated different strategies they might use to manage the personally relevant uncertain situation they described. In the total sample, IU dimensions, worry, and NU were positively correlated with general distress, whereas NU was not correlated with any of the IU dimensions or with worry. In participants who underwent the uncertainty induction, inhibitory IU positively predicted the use of under-engagement strategies and negatively predicted the use of over-engagement ones. Furthermore, prospective IU and worry positively predicted over-engagement behaviors. Only NU positively predicted the use of impulsive behaviors,. Current findings support the differential role played by the IU dimensions in promoting the use of dysfunctional behaviors under uncertain circumstances. Furthermore, the lack of association between IU and impulsivity claims for further research considering cross-cultural issues.


Intolerance of uncertainty Impulsivity Behaviors In vivo induction 



The current work was carried out within the scope of the research program “Dipartimenti di Eccellenza,” which is supported by a grant from MIUR to the Department of General Psychology, University of Padua.

The authors would like to thank Dr. Samantha Man for performing the back translation of the IUBEL.


This work was supported by the Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Italy (project code VIDO_AFAR16_02), which had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly

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