I walk in an unknown, dust burnt by the sun, street, a busy one, and blocks in a line. Traces of war on walls, the street’s potholes, slow the convoys, and directed arms. Keeping the steady pace, to meet at my place, aimed to displace and cover my face. Shooting and hellfire, despite the scene so dire, I’m back to inquire, and I do see her. I could shoot as well, an angel from hell; they don’t yell and then repel. Torn out of this dream, no way to remain; I hope you’re fine, and we’ll return. A better time, peace, less shooting at least, conquered the beasts and where love wins. Strong to not lose faith, don’t give in to fight, a temporary night, and we’re alright.
Summary. In the light of uncertain future threatening outcomes, present ambiguous information often is interpreted more negatively than it would be the case in a safe context. Black-and-white thinking is hindering positive deciphering of ambiguous information. People educated in open-mindedness and who have learned to tolerate ambiguity can better persevere in their tolerance even in situations of danger. Individuals’ dependencies on hierarchical power can cause closed mental systems that are increasingly unable to tolerate differences, ambiguities, and uncertainties. The promotion of hope might be a useful approach to reduce uncertainty intolerance that leaves more room for thoughtful and empathic decisions. It will be crucial how we instill hope and support our children to live constructively with uncertainties while retaining a high tolerance for ambiguity and open-mindedness as required to find the solutions sought for the benefit of all. What are your learnings from uncertain/ambiguous situations and how did you learn to develop a tolerance for it?
The difference between ‘uncertainty’ and ‘ambiguity’
Intolerance of Uncertainty and Intolerance of Ambiguity often have been confused. Although IU and IA are overlapping concepts, they can be differentiated as follows: Intolerance of uncertainty refers future negative events that cause worries, and intolerance for ambiguity refers to adverse stimuli in the present . Also, intolerance of uncertainty is built on the fact that information on outcomes of a situation is missing while intolerance for ambiguity is characterized by ambivalent or conflicting information available on the situation .
The effect of intolerance for uncertainty on tolerance for ambiguity
As per the discussion around the article https://www.mathias-sager.com/2018/06/12/tolerance-for-ambiguity-as-a-gateway-to-leadership-opportunity/ it became clear to me that tolerance for ambiguity respectively Intolerance for Ambiguity might be dependent a lot on context too. Thanks to all the involved for triggering that further research. While having assumed general business situations in times of relative peace in democratic countries in the last article, individual’s behavior in highly stressful (e.g., military) conditions in threatening environments needs to be looked at specifically, including both the concepts of uncertainty and ambiguity. I hope this article can contribute to that discussion.
Tolerance for ambiguity of an individual can be reduced in the context of threat through uncertainty, and especially when there is increased intolerance of uncertainty. In other words, in the light of uncertain future threatening outcomes, present ambiguous information is interpreted more negatively than it would be the case in a safe context . Besides, not only the threat itself but the possibly stronger propagation of stereotyping (e.g., of enemies) might promote black-and-white thinking that is hindering an open mindset as required to positively decipher ambiguous information. People educated in open-mindedness and who have learned to tolerate ambiguity can better persevere in their tolerance even in situations of danger .
We generally have a choice between concern and cruelty. But as the example above showed, sometimes not-so-obvious factors influence our predispositions for one of the options because intolerance for an ambiguous situation, induced by threats of uncertainty, may trigger reactions of self-defense based on uncontrolled prejudices. Interviewing perpetrators in the Rwanda genocide revealed that individuals’ dependencies on hierarchical power caused closed mental systems unable to tolerate differences, ambiguities, and uncertainties .
Hope and resilience to endure uncertainty
In our times of continued pervasiveness of populations living in environments of war and disasters, resilience is a further important concept. Hope as related to resilience is enabling individuals to imagine a better future and to endure the present despite the uncertainty for such an achievement . That way, the promotion of hope might be a useful approach to reduce uncertainty intolerance and consequently to increase the tolerance for ambiguity for a more open mindedness that leaves room for thoughtful and empathic decisions.
Growth versus safety orientation
Maslow (1968) made the point that we are oriented toward either growth or safety in our everyday lives and that a growth orientation is more favorable for psychological health and well-being . When self-protection (needs) get reduced, self-awareness can arise and facilitate the appreciation of multiple possibilities in situations, which might be the stage of personal development where tolerance for ambiguity as the capacity to accept paradoxes starts to become feasible . Systems of mass conformity, authoritarianism, and nationalism/racism are offered as a means for safety, unfortunately at the cost of growth possibilities through autonomy, creativity, and the use of reason though. After World War II this became evident and powerful movements toward an open mind of tolerance of ambiguity emerged that could cater to both safety and growth needs . It is a function of societies to prepare the next generation for life, and it will be crucial how we instill hope and support our children to live constructively with uncertainties while retaining a high tolerance for ambiguity and open-mindedness as required to find the solutions sought for the benefit of all .
What are your learnings from uncertain/ambiguous situations and how did you learn to develop a tolerance for it?
 Maslow, A. H. (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
 Hartman, D., & Zimberoff, D. (2008). Higher Stages of Human Development. Journal Of Heart-Centered Therapies, 11(2), 3-95.
 Grenier, S., Barrette, A. M., & Ladouceur, R. (2005). Intolerance of Uncertainty and Intolerance of Ambiguity: Similarities and differences. PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, (3). 593.
 Neta, M., Cantelon, J., Haga, Z., Mahoney, C. R., Taylor, H. A., & Davis, F. C. (2017). The impact of uncertain threat on affective bias: Individual differences in response to ambiguity. Emotion, 17(8), 1137-1143. doi:10.1037/emo0000349
 Kirschner, H., Hilbert, K., Hoyer, J., Lueken, U., & Beesdo-Baum, K. (2016). Psychophsyiological reactivity during uncertainty and ambiguity processing in high and low worriers. Journal Of Behavior Therapy And Experimental Psychiatry, 5097-105. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2015.06.001
 Einwanger, J. (2014). Wie riskant ist Sicherheit? (German). Pädiatrie & Pädologie, 49(4), 33. doi:10.1007/s00608-014-0152-4
 Bright, L. K., & Mahdi, G. S. (2012). U.S./Arab Reflections on Our Tolerance for Ambiguity. Adult Learning, 23(2), 86-89.
 Rohde, J. (2015). Review of The open mind: Cold War politics and the sciences of human nature. Journal Of The History Of The Behavioral Sciences, 51(3), 343-345. doi:10.1002/jhbs.21739
 Wilson, M. J., & Arvanitakis, J. (2013). The Resilience Complex. M/C Journal, 16(5), 17.
 Böhm, T. (2006). Psychoanalytic aspects on perpetrators in genocide: Experiences from Rwanda. Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 29(1), 22-32. doi:10.1080/01062301.2006.10592776
Parental Alienation More than twenty years ago the late author and renowned child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome. He used this term to characterise the breakdown of what was previously normal and healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation according to Gardner is simple. One parent (in […]
Summary. Inabilities to accept (and therefore recognize) our dark feelings are leading us to externalize our shadow (as Jungians would say) to others, for example to a therefor loved partner. Especially vulnerable narcissists defend themselves against shameful helplessness in cases of separation with a partner (and therefore with a part of themselves) by negating their helplessness. To avoid frustration, rage, and violent defenses in case of uncontrollable separation it is, therefore, to some extent, essential to learning to live with (learned) helplessness.
It’s intriguing to look at self-control as a capacity to reduce aggression. In fact Galić and Ružojčić (2017) state that dispositional self-control, as measured with an according test, moderated negative behavior at work. Similarly, implicit self-control can be related to a reduction of anger and different types of aggression (Keatly, Allom, & Mullan, 2017).
Maybe like from the after-school anti-aggression sports program studied by Shachar, Ronen-Rosenbaum, Rosenbaum, Orkibi, and Hamama (2016), the impressive results including evidence for better self-control skills, reduced anger and less urge for physical aggression, could be replicated for adults. The program required the experiment group to sport five times a week, though. Would be interesting to know down to what intensity and frequency such a program would still yield similar benefits (Shachar et al., 2016).
This article discusses the definition of harassment as a form of bullying, then goes into further detail regarding power harassment, and adds specific experiences from Japan before the article concludes with possible interventions to be taken by organizational leadership. Workplace harassment seems to be especially important also in Japan as most extremely put, the Japanese “corporate warriors […] have considered their corporate affiliation as their real family” (Adams, 2012).
Aggression respectively violence both can be exerted physically or psychologically. It is of concern that psychological aggression is regarded as less negative than physical aggression, although victims’ experiences show that psychological aggression causes more emotional harm. Furthermore, aggressive behavior from males is recognized as more damaging than when coming from females, having its explanation in stereotypes of the forceful male and fragile female gender. Therefore, it is important to invest more into the difficult detection and prevention of psychological aggression and its resulting psychological harm and to promote gender inclusiveness.
Human aggressive behavior is any intentional causation of harm to others, and increasingly severe acts of aggression can represent even violence (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Anderson and Bushman (2002) distinguish between instrumental and hostile aggression, the former being a means to reach a goal and the latter being a reactive impulse to harm an opponent. Relational aggression, as defined by Oka, Brown, and Miller (2016), constitutes a specialty of emotional (vs. physical) aggression that involves third parties, such as is the case of social sabotage, to damage relationships and hurt the victim through the unfulfilled need of belonging in those relationships.