Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Haas, I. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2014). The uncertainty paradox: Perceived threat moderates the effect of uncertainty on political tolerance. Political Psychology, 35(2), 291-302. doi: 10.1111/pops.12035


Copyright © 2013 International Society of Political Psychology. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Used by permission.


People respond to dissimilar political beliefs in a variety of ways, ranging from openness and acceptance to closed-mindedness and intolerance. While there is reason to believe that uncertainty may influence political tolerance, the direction of this influence remains unclear. We propose that threat moderates the effect of uncertainty on tolerance; when safe, uncertainty leads to greater tolerance, yet when threatened, uncertainty leads to reduced tolerance. Using independent manipulations of threat and uncertainty, we provide support for this hypothesis. This research demonstrates that, although feelings of threat and uncertainty can be independent, it is also important to understand their interaction.