The psychology of tolerance in times of uncertainty

Małgorzata Kossowska, Ewa Szumowska, Paulina Szwed

This unique book lays out the motivational basis for tolerance, the most important underlying factor that shapes people’s social attitudes and determines our ability to get along with others.

Closed- or open-mindedness distinguishes people open to information and new ideas, prepared to change their views, from people who are rigidly attached to their convictions and resistant to the unknown. Demonstrating how the mechanism underlying closed-mindedness is rooted in uncertainty and fear, with the fundamental consequence of closed-mindedness being intolerance, the author shows how basic features of human psychology drive large-scale socio-political developments that determine the fate of peoples and nations. Kossowska argues that recent political events across Europe, including the popularity and rise of extreme right-wing groups, are no longer adequately explained by traditional distinctions like people versus the elite, religion versus no religion, left versus right. Exploring how this can provide knowledge to increase the capability of people, groups, or societies to improve their lives in an era of uncertainty created by economic and political turmoil, the book also focuses on discussing ways to make people more open, thus tolerant.

Written from a psychological perspective, this is an ideal resource for students and academics in psychology and social and political science, as well as anybody interested in understanding psychological mechanisms of intolerance. 

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