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Psychology of uncertainty: the roots of uncertainty reduction

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2019
Küçükkömürler, Sane
The widespread effect of uncertainty led researchers in psychology literature to examine this concept. Different conceptualizations and different theories pointed to specific properties of psychological processes under uncertainty. In this thesis, a new comprehensive model was proposed. According to the model, perceived uncertainty creates a discomfort and level of the discomfort determines responses toward uncertainty. It was expected to find generalization responses under low discomfort and high discomfort manipulations and specification responses under moderate discomfort manipulation. In order to test this model, two pretests were conducted. In the first pretest, uncertainty provoking themes in cultural structure of Turkey was searched. It was found that frequently mentioned uncertainties are mostly external, short-term oriented, and related to contents such as work/graduation, health, and social contact. In the second pretest, discomfort manipulations were tested. Three themes with three discomfort levels in each were selected by looking at their effect sizes. Lastly, in the main study, the proposed model was tested via manipulation themes and discomfort levels determined with previous pretests. Results v demonstrated that participants used generalization tendency more in low discomfort manipulation but it decreased in both moderate and high discomfort manipulations. Also there was an increase in specification tendency depending on increase in discomfort levels. Therefore, the proposed model was partially supported. Interestingly, despite the difference between low and moderate-high discomfort conditions and increase in specification tendency with respect to discomfort levels, mean scores in each condition were in the generalization area. This finding led us to suggest an alternative explanation. There may be a sequence between generalization and specification responses in which generalization is a first order and specification second order process.