teacher reading to five diverse children

Low versus high uncertainty avoidance

Think of a friend, relative, or coworker who is flexible and tolerates ambiguity. This person has low uncertainty avoidance. This may be a person who never reserves a hotel room ahead when making a road trip by automobile. They simply find a hotel room on the way.

Now think of a person you know who prefers to plan and be certain. This person will probably always make a hotel room reservation along with a carefully planned travel route when driving by automobile.

The cultural value dimension of low or high uncertainty avoidance resides in the question of should we try to control the future or just let the future happen? How shall we deal with the future when the future can never be known for sure?

Low uncertainty avoidance persons act first and then get information. They are very comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. Cultural value clusters of low uncertainty avoidance work hard to minimize rules and laws that infringe on people’s diverse perspectives.

High uncertainty avoidance often requires rigid codes of behavior and beliefs. There may easily be intolerance of unorthodox behaviors and ideas. Persons with high uncertainty avoidance appreciate explicit instructions. They often rely on procedures and policies to reduce the chance of things getting out of control.

Anglo countries, Eastern Europe, and Nordic Europe have a preference for low uncertainty avoidance. Latin Europe and Latin America emphasize planning and predictability or high uncertainty avoidance.

I have a preference for high uncertainty avoidance. I rarely leave on an automobile trip for which I do not have the hotel rooms reserved. My rental car is always reserved in advance. I did a do it yourself kitchen remodel a few years ago and spent months researching and planning every step. It drove my poor wife crazy. I honestly envy those of you who would just start the remodeling process and make decisions as they arise.

Reflect on your own preference for low or high uncertainty avoidance. In comments share an example or story from your life. Next, read the examples from other learners and enter into a discussion.

After sharing and discussing in comments, please mark this step complete.

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Develop Your Cultural Intelligence

Purdue University

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