tolerance of ambiguity

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A cognitive style representing the degree to which an individual is comfortable with situations or stimuli which lack a single clear and regular pattern or an obviously correct interpretation. In perception and recall this is reflected in the extent to which they tend to transform irregular configurations into standardized forms. We all tend to standardize like this to some extent, but those who are more intolerant of ambiguity show a stronger tendency to do this. Some features of such intolerance include a strong preference for: symmetry, regularity, familiarity, simple dichotomies, black-and-white solutions, rapid closure, stereotyping, and compartmentalization. Contexts in which rational analysis has a high status (such as scientific research) tend to discourage ambiguity; contexts in which individual interpretation is prominent (such as the arts) tend to show more acceptance of it. See also assimilation; levelling and sharpening.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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