Increasing Tolerance of Uncertainty
Intolerance of uncertainty is a far-reaching – yet not widely examined – construct with both clinical (e.g., PTSD) and nonclinical (e.g., political intolerance) associations. Much of the existing research has demonstrated methods that increase intolerance of uncertainty, but far fewer methods that have been able to increase its opposite, tolerance of uncertainty, which would likely have beneficial effects. The current study attempted to address this lack by implementing a brief intervention designed to increase tolerance of uncertainty. The intervention consisted of reading a short parable and subsequently reflecting on an instance in one’s life that was uncertain at the time but ultimately turned out well. The experimental condition (n = 50) was compared to an active control condition (n = 50). Results demonstrated the opposite of the primary hypothesis: the intervention significantly increased intolerance of uncertainty (vs. increased tolerance of uncertainty), and also marginally significantly increased political intolerance. Results confirmed a secondary hypothesis, that those higher in mindfulness were higher in tolerance of uncertainty. These findings suggest unexpected factors that might contribute to intolerance of uncertainty, as well as potential directions for future research. The study indicates that investigations of longer-term interventions, especially those that include training in mindfulness, might be particularly warranted.