THE EXPLANATION

What is this quiz? And what does it reveal about me?

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The last decade has seen an explosion of interest in the psychology of ambiguity. Much of that scholarly attention has focused on a pioneering idea called the need for closure, defined by the scientist Arie Kruglanski, who originated the concept, as our “desire for a definite answer on some topic, any answer as opposed to confusion and ambiguity.”

In many ways, our natural thirst for closure probably evolved as a positive evolutionary trait. Without some type of urge for resolution, we’d never get anything done. But there are downsides to the need for closure as well: under stress it can lead us to jump to conclusions, deny contradictions, revert to stereotypes, and place more trust in our own social groups.

Studies have shown that each person has a baseline level of comfort—or discomfort!—with ambiguity and uncertainty. Factors like fatigue and time pressure, however, can significantly and dangerously increase our need for closure. Adapted from a longer version created by Donna Webster and Arie Kruglanski in 1994, this quiz measures your current craving for clarity according to five subdomains: the desire for order and structure, discomfort with ambiguity, decisiveness, desire for predictability about the future, and closed-mindedness.

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Click here to read more about the surprising ways that ambiguity affects your day-to-day life.

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“Uncomfortable with ambiguity? Maybe you shouldn’t be.
In this energetic, tale-filled, fascinating tour of a broad horizon, Jamie Holmes shows that people often prosper when and because they are uncertain. A persuasive argument, but one thing is clear: You’ll learn a lot from this book.”

—CASS R. SUNSTEIN, professor at Harvard University
and coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness

 

 

Editor’s note: The scale appears in Arne Roets and Alain Van Hiel, “Item Selection and Validation of a Brief, 15-Item Version of the Need for Closure Scale,” Personality and Individual Differences 50 (2011): 90–94. The ranges above were derived from an email correspondence with Arne Roets on April 29, 2015. High and low need-for-closure ranges represent the higher and lower quartiles. As Roets cautioned, these figures are sample-specific and not necessarily representative of a given population.