Motivated closing of the mind: "seizing" and "freezing"

Psychol Rev. 1996 Apr;103(2):263-83. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.103.2.263.


A theoretical framework is outlined in which the key construct is the need for (nonspecific) cognitive closure. The need for closure is a desire for definite knowledge on some issue. It represents a dimension of stable individual differences as well as a situationally evocable state. The need for closure has widely ramifying consequences for social-cognitive phenomena at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and group levels of analysis. Those consequences derive from 2 general tendencies, those of urgency and performance. The urgency tendency represents an individual's inclination to attain closure as soon as possible, and the permanence tendency represents an individual's inclination to maintain it for as long as possible. Empirical evidence for present theory attests to diverse need for closure effects on fundamental social psychological phenomena, including impression formation, stereotyping, attribution, persuasion, group decision making, and language use in intergroup contexts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Language
  • Personality