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Is Multilingualism Linked To A Higher Tolerance Of Ambiguity?

JEAN-MARC DEWAELE, LI WEI

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The present study investigates the link between multilingualism and the personality trait Tolerance of Ambiguity (TA) among 2158 mono-, bi- and multilinguals. Monolinguals and bilinguals scored significantly lower on TA compared to multilinguals. A high level of global proficiency of various languages was linked to higher TA scores. A stay abroad of more than three months was also linked to higher TA although the effect levelled off after one year. Growing up in a multilingual family had no effect on TA. These findings show that a high level of multilingualism makes individuals more at ease in dealing with ambiguity, but we acknowledge that a higher level of TA can also strengthen an individual's inclination to become multilingual.