Navigating the Need for Cognitive Closure

Writing Lessons from the Coronavirus Pandemic

Image for post
Image for post

We find patterns in uncertainty

The other day, my husband and I took a long walk on an empty, foggy beach. The mist rolled off the waves and across the sand, obscuring the shoreline ahead. The lone runner that passed us dissolved eerily into the grey.

Image for post
Image for post

The need for closure

Social psychologist Arie Kruglanski coined the term cognitive closure; Donna Webster and Kruglanski developed a Need for Closure scale to assess the differences within individuals. You can find a shortened version of this assessment to measure your own tendencies.

  1. They stick to their decisions, even as evidence mounts to the contrary (permanence)
Image for post
Image for post

Lessons for writers

Today, the uncertain situation on everyone’s mind is the pandemic. But you may encounter closed minds when working on any topic that is in flux or where you cannot possibly see all of the contributing factors; medicine, science, technology, finance, fast-moving industry sectors, and more.

Related content

For more on this topic, see the chapter “The Tough Audience” in Writing to Be Understood: What Works and Why.

Author, Writing Coach: Writing about Marketing, Technology, and Writing Itself (very meta).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store