Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Uncertainty is woven into the fabric of human experience. All types of experiences involve some degree of uncertainty. Given the pervasiveness of uncertainty in daily life, individual differences how people think, behave, and feel about uncertainty matters. Some respond to uncertainty with fear and anxiety while others respond to uncertainty with curiosity and interest. The current project focused on two responses to uncertainty: intolerance of uncertainty and curiosity. The three main aims were to examine the relationship between these constructs directly, to investigate their unique contributions to outcomes of wellbeing and general psychological distress, and to examine cognitive appraisals associated with proximate outcomes of worry and interest. A large online adult sample (N = 413) completed self-report measures of IU, curiosity, personality, well-being, and general psychological distress symptoms. Participants also completed a novel vignette-based task of hypothetical future scenarios that varied in degree of uncertainty and pleasantness. IU was inversely associated with only some of the hypothesized curiosity dimensions. After accounting for personality traits, trait IU explained an additional 15% of the variance in general psychological distress, and trait curiosity explained an additional 16% of the variance in wellbeing. Each reflects a small but noteworthy additional contribution to these outcomes. For uncertain situations only, coping potential demonstrated a modest moderation effect of the appraisal of uncertainty on worry and interest, in support of project hypotheses. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
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