Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Uncertainty Avoidance

  • Bradley R. DeWeesEmail author
  • Jennifer S. Lerner
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_806-1

Individual differences in uncertainty avoidance can predispose serenity or terror, tolerance or intolerance, and innovation or stagnation. We here define uncertainty avoidance and review key research findings on the topic.

Uncertainty Avoidance Defined

Norton (1975) defined uncertainty avoidance as “a tendency to perceive or interpret information marked by vague, incomplete, fragmented, multiple, probably, unstructured, uncertain, inconsistent, contrary, contradictory, or unclear meanings as actual or potential sources of psychological discomfort or threat” (p. 608). Later researchers expanded on this by identifying two key dimensions of uncertainty avoidance.

First, individuals can differ in what they initially classify as uncertain (Hirsch et al. 2016). Second, once an individual classifies a stimulus as uncertain, she/he can differ in the extent to which she/he believes the uncertainty is worth avoiding (Matsumoto et al. 2008). Stopa and Clark (2000) found that individuals high in...

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Kennedy SchoolHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Patrizia Velotti
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational SciencesUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly