Here’s how to make peace with uncertainty

‘There’s good evidence that gamblers are hooked, not by sure wins but by lucky wins, unpredictable good fortune.’ Photograph: Getty Images/Panoramic Images A team of researchers just published the most sophisticated experiment ever conceived on the relationship between uncertainty and stress. The volunteers for this experiment played a computer game requiring them to overturn rocks that might have snakes hidden under them. If a snake appeared, a painful electric shock was delivered. The participants were thus highly motivated to figure out which rocks hid the snakes. Naturally, they tried to learn the habits of the snake population, better to avoid the shocks. So the investigators, Archy de Berker and colleagues – made sure that the level of uncertainty – what they call “irreducible uncertainty” or risk – would fluctuate yet…

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