Current Psychology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 179-199

First online:

Tolerance of ambiguity: A review of the concept, its measurement and applications

  • Adrian FurnhamAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University College London
  • , Tracy RibchesterAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University College London

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This paper reviews the scattered and diffuse literature on the tolerance of ambiguity construct (AT). The work by Frenkel-Brunswik (1948) is considered in some detail to help explain the origin of the concept as well as its diffusion to many areas of psychology. Second, thirty years of correlational research, which looks at the studies correlating AT measures with a variety of psychological variables, are reviewed. Third, evidence for the differential distribution of AT among particular groups is reviewed. Fourth, the psychometric properties of the various self-report AT measures are considered in some detail. The two final sections look at organizational and cultural correlates of AT (the areas currently most interested in the AT concept). The conclusion attempts to explain varying patterns of interest in the AT construct and its current status.