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    What Can Covid-19 Tell You About Your Personality? #MustRead

    by BML Munjal University March 26, 2020

    Switch on any TV channel and what is invariably flashing on our screens is the breaking news on Corona Virus and its impact on lives of millions of people all across the world.


    The tally on number of people found positive and the number of lives that the virus has already taken, leaves us nervous and anxious.

    Till few weeks back, could we have ever thought that we will be home quarantined and will not step out for days or maybe weeks together?

    And now that we are into it, are you able to sit back and take things easy as they gradually shapeup because anyways the things are beyond your control; or do you feeling jittery about what will or could happen next?

    Are you going crazy over how many days more of this isolation, apprehension and restrictions or are you exploring newer opportunities in these times of ambiguity?

    Did you know that your responses to these questions, tells so much about your personality traits? To know yourselves better, read the following three statements carefully that have been taken from (Budner, 1962) and put the following numbers next to the statement.

    7 – If you strongly agree with the statement

    6 – Moderately agree

    5 – Slightly agree

    3 – Slightly disagree

    2 – Moderately disagree

    1 – Strongly disagree

    Statements Your score
    1.     What we are used to is always preferable to what is unfamiliar
    2.     A person who leads an even, regular life in which few surprises or unexpected happenings arise, really has a lot to be grateful for
    3.     I like parties where I know most of the people more than ones where all or most of the people are complete strangers.

    Now, sum up your ratings for each of the three statements and read on.

    All individuals handle ambiguity in their own unique way with varying levels of tolerance. In ambiguous situations i.e. those that are characterized either by novelty, complexity or insolvability; our behaviors may alter than our normal behaviors.

    Undoubtedly, we are all submerged into ambiguity with the novel Covid-19 virus constantly hovering over our heads and the entire world being absolutely clueless on what lays ahead for each one of us.

    Tolerance to ambiguity is defined as the person’s ability to deal effectively with vagueness. i.e. amidst the circumstances that are unclear, vague and uncertain, an individual tolerant to ambiguity might not perceive them to be a potential source of psychological discomfort or threat.


    Psychologists define our behaviors in such circumstances at two levels i.e. at phenomenological and operative level.

    Phenomenological level means how we feel, perceive and evaluate uncertainty and Operative level means how so we operate and conduct ourselves i.e. our outward behavior and action in response to ambiguity.

    Our responses at both these levels can either be that -of submission or denial. Submission at phenomenological level results in feeling anxious and uncomfortable about the ambiguity and at operative levels leads us into avoidance behavior.

    On the other hand, Denial at phenomenological lelvel results into feeling repressed and at an operative level it can lead to destructive or reconstructive behavior.



    Submission Denial
    Phenomenological Level (Feeling) Anxiety Repression
    Operative level                (Outward conduct) Avoidance behavior Destructive or reconstructive behavior

    In the present circumstances, there is very little that we can do about the situation at an operative level, but what definitely matters is how we feel about it i.e. is there a phenomenological submission?

    On a scale from 3 to 21, (1 being highly tolerant to ambiguity and 21 being completely intolerant to change), what was the sum of your rating?

    If your score was higher than 12, it is plausible to infer that you have low tolerance to ambiguity and are felling threatened from the Covid virus.

    On the other hand, if your score is less than 12, it would be reasonable to infer that you are relatively more tolerant to ambiguity and must be making the most of this time in your hand.

    What tolerance for ambiguity means for your career options? ‘Entrepreneurs’ have been found to have a far higher tolerance to ambiguity as compared to the ‘Managers’.

    And it is their ability to deal successfully with uncertainty that gives impetus to their belief that they can do it irrespective of the environment (Schere, 1982). I hope that you too develop a higher tolerance for ambiguity and venture into the world of innovation, opportunities and success.

    Budner, S. (1962). Intolerance of ambiguity as a personality variable. Journal of Personality, 30, 29–50. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13874381

    Schere, J. L. (1982). Tolerance of Ambiguity as a Discriminating Variable Between Entrepreneurs and Managers. Academy of Management Proceedings, 1982(1), 404–408. https://doi.org/10.5465/ambpp.1982.4976860


    Author Info:

    Dr. Jaskiran Arora

    Associate Dean (School of Management)

    BML Munjal University

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