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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Construction and validation of a figural measure of tolerance/intolerance of ambiguity Weir, Warren Bradley


The Tolerance/Intolerance of Ambiguity literature is plagued by conceptual confusion and methodological inadequacies. In particular, formulations of the construct and the instruments constructed to measure it suffer from a number of faults, including (1) incomplete and logically inconsistent definitions, (2) confusion regarding the relation between Tolerance/Intolerance of Ambiguity and Rigidity, (3) test confounds such as verbal ability and reactivity, (4) problems of item interpretation due to their verbal nature, (5) low estimates of internal consistency, and (6) questionable construct validity. In this study, a reconceptualization of Tolerance/Intolerance of Ambiguity was distinguished from the construct of Rigidity, and a non-verbal measure was developed which employs ambiguous figures as item stimuli and reaction statements as a response format for each item. Figural stimuli were utilized in order to circumvent confounding factors such as verbal ability, reactivity, and "fakeability." Analysis of 142 ambiguous figures yielded five categories which served as subscales of the test. After pilot testing and refinement, the psychometric properties of the resultant 30-item test, the Figural Measure of Ambiguity Tolerance (FMAT), were investigated by including it as part of battery of tests administered to high school, college, and university students (N=160). This battery included verbal and non-verbal tests of Authoritarianism, Intolerance of Ambiguity and Cognitive Ability chosen so as to allow for an evaluation of construct validity via examination of a Multi-Trait, Multi-Method correlation matrix. A second matrix, generated by adjusting for verbal and non-verbal Cognitive Ability, was also examined. In addition, a criterion-group referencing approach was used to examine construct validity. The Figural Measure of Ambiguity Tolerance showed evidence of good internal consistency reliability at the subscale and total scale levels. The a priori subscale structure was well-supported by factor-analytic results. Results of the validation portion of the study were inconclusive in that evidence of construct validity was minimal for all the measures involved. Given the limitations of previous conceptualizations and current verbal tests of Tolerance/Intolerance of Ambiguity, however, the results support the viability of this non-verbal measurement approach.

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