03 May 2012

A Tolerance for Ambiguity

"Ambiguity tolerance (AT) refers to the way an individual (or group) perceives and processes information about ambiguous situations or stimuli when confronted by an array of unfamiliar, complex, or incongruent clues. AT is a variable that is often conceived on an unidimensional scale. The person with low tolerance of ambiguity experiences stress, reacts prematurely, and avoids ambiguous stimuli. At the other extreme of the scale, however, a person with high tolerance for ambiguity perceives ambiguous situations/stimuli as desirable, challenging, and interesting and neither denies nor distorts their complexity of incongruity." (Tolerance of ambiguity: A review of the concept, its... By: Furnham, Adrian, Ribchester, Tracy, Current Psychology, 10461310, Fall95, Vol. 14, Issue 3)
I find myself being the kind of person who does not tolerate ambiguity well. I like to know exactly what time an activity is going to start, I follow recipes to the letter, and I usually don't try new foods at restaurants. I've realized, however, that being married to Ryan has definitely increased my tolerance for the unknown, as he is much less exacting in almost all things. I appreciate that about him, but let's face it: sometimes I hate it. 
There are some areas in my life in which I do tolerate ambiguity very well. For example, when I had a miscarriage in 2010: I don't know what caused that to happen. And normally not knowing the "why" behind something drives me nuts. But in that case, I've been content not knowing why. There are also a lot of spiritual questions with unknown answers (well, unknown to us at present) that don't ruffle me at all. Like, why did the early Latter-day Saints have to practice polygamy? How did the Atonement work? Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? (okay, the last one is a joke) I don't know the answers to these questions, and I'm okay with that. I trust that the answers, whatever they are, are good ones.
I think that's called faith.  

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