Emily Abbey & Clara Chu
Clark University, Worcester (MA), USA

E-mail:eabbey@clarku.edu

 

RECONCEPTUALIZING MONOLOGICAL AND DIALOGICAL RESPONSES TO AMBIGUITY

 

The objective of this research is to explore developmentally how people respond to ambiguous images to better understand tolerance/acceptance and intolerance/prejudice. Previous research on responses to ambiguity has separated monological and dialogical responses, stating that monological responses are associated with intolerance, whereas dialogical responses are linked to tolerance. This dichotomous splitting has no doubt contributed to the idea that tolerant or intolerant forms of response are trait-like characteristics of an individual's personality. By understanding the development of these forms, this study challenges the notion that monological responses to ambiguity are necessarily intolerant, and the assumption that dialogical responses are usually tolerant. As well, the notion that these forms are mutually exclusionary personality traits is challenged. This study shows how a single person can be both monologically tolerant and dialogically intolerant of ambiguity. Thus, rather than focusing on monologicality and dialogicality as polar opposites, it is perhaps more realistic to conceptualize the different forms of response as falling along a continuum, where monologicality can grow out of dialogicality or vice versa. The notion of a continuum provides the conceptual framework necessary for understanding these response 'forms' as highly flexible and constantly negotiable, rather than as representative of fixed personality traits.