An Analysis Of The Tolerance For Ambiguity Among Accounting Students

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L. P. Steenkamp
P. L. Wessels


Accounting, Personality Characteristic, Tolerance for Ambiguity


Tolerance for ambiguity is a personality characteristic that reflects the general feelings and attitudes of an individual toward ambiguity and ambiguous situations. Prior research has found accounting students to be significantly less tolerant of ambiguity than the general population, with female accounting students less tolerant than their male counterparts. The research on which this article is reporting aimed to examine the personality characteristic tolerance for ambiguity among accounting students to determine whether those currently being attracted to the profession are still less tolerant of ambiguity than the norm as reported by prior research, taking into account the drive from the accounting profession to attract individuals to the profession who are effective communicators, who can think and act strategically, are able to solve unstructured problems, and are aware of business issues.

Tolerance for ambiguity was measured using the AT-20 scale, a widely used and validated instrument developed by MacDonald (1970). The results of this study confirm that students enrolled for accounting degree programmes are less tolerant for ambiguity (mean = 7.50) than students enrolled for other business programmes (mean = 8.16). Female students enrolled in accounting degree programmes were significantly less tolerant for ambiguity than their male counterparts.


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