Volatile Environments Motivate Us to Avoid Uncertainty

Enduring conditions of volatility for prolonged periods can disrupt our ability to deal with other kinds of uncertainty. We may develop inaccurate perspectives on the world, such as learned helplessness—a state of mind in which we doubt our ability to bring about the desired or expected result. If we repeatedly encounter situations such as volatility, where we are unable to learn from and adapt to rapidly changing contexts, we may become conditioned to believe that we have no power to influence outcomes. In response, we may seek to build environments that exclude those elements that we perceive of as being as inconsistent with our model of the world, or implement "filter bubbles" that confine our interactions to others who reinforce even maladaptive behaviours. Our brains have evolved to minimize surprise, and we may be predisposed to seek out environments that therefore conform to or reinforce our expectations, and avoid those that don't.


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Citations

Miller, Mark, Kathryn Nave, George Deane, and Andy Clark. “Use Uncertainty to Leverage the Power of Your Predictive Brain.” Aeon. Accessed October 21, 2020. https://aeon.co/essays/use-uncertainty-to-leverage-the-power-of-your-predictive-brain.


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