The Echoes of the Mind (157-5) Uncertainty Tolerance

Uncertainty Tolerance

Hofstede identified “a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity,” which reflects baseline fear, and correspondent measures to minimize social change. Countries with strong uncertainty anxiety maintain rigid codes of belief and behavior and are intolerant of unorthodox behavior and ideas. There is also less tolerance for carefree youth, with their exuberant antics and emotional extravagance. Inconsistently, people in uncertainty-avoidant cultures are more easily upset; hence, themselves emotionally exuberant about violations of mores.

More generally, uncertainty-avoidant people tend to be more emotional, as there is a constant stress underlying conformist cultures. Those not adverse to uncertainty feel more comfortable with change and tend to be pragmatic.

In high-uncertainty-avoidant countries, rituals are created to present the illusion of certainty through conformant behaviors. Such cultures place great importance on structured information channels, with the intent of creating the illusion of constancy.

Muslims, Latin Americans, the French, southern and eastern Europeans, German speakers, and the Japanese, are uncertainty-avoidant. Chinese, Anglo, and Nordic cultures are less anxious about uncertainty. But no culture is especially worry-free about the future. This reflects the ubiquitous incompetence of societal governance in dealing with the wide-ranging corrosion inherent in capitalism.

Conservatives favor social control regulations to thwart uncertainty. Liberals, more tolerant of change, also favor social controls, albeit for what they consider “the greater good” of societal cohesion.