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Meaning-Making in Delayed-Return Cultures: The Case of Personal Uncertainty

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Abstract

The large majority of humans nowadays live in cultures in which there is often a delay between the efforts they exert and the feedback they receive regarding the outcome of their efforts. As a result, individuals may experience uncertainty between their efforts and outcomes, leading them to pay special attention to uncertainty information. In particular, we propose that when people feel uncertain about themselves, this may be alarming to them as it may signal that their personal contract with their delayed-return culture may be in jeopardy. Therefore, under conditions of personal uncertainty, people are looking forward to events that bolster their cultural worldviews and detest events that violate these worldviews. We review research findings that show that personal uncertainty indeed has a special role in the social psychology of meaning-making and worldview defense, sometimes even yielding a better explanation of worldview defense reactions than terror management theory.

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