Ambivalence is a state of having simultaneous conflicting reactions, beliefs, or feelings towards some object. Stated another way, ambivalence is the experience of having an attitude towards someone or something that contains both positively and negatively valenced components. The term also refers to situations where "mixed feelings" of a more general sort are experienced, or where a person experiences uncertainty or indecisiveness.

Although attitudes tend to guide attitude-relevant behavior, those held with ambivalence tend to do so to a lesser extent. The less certain an individual is in their attitude, the more impressionable it becomes, hence making future actions less predictable and/or less decisive. Ambivalent attitudes are also more susceptible to transient information (e.g., mood), which can result in a more malleable evaluation. However, since ambivalent people think more about attitude-relevant information, they also tend to be more persuaded by (compelling) attitude relevant information than less ambivalent people.

Explicit ambivalence may or may not be experienced as psychologically unpleasant when the positive and negative aspects of a subject are both present in a person's mind at the same time. Psychologically uncomfortable ambivalence, also known as cognitive dissonance, can lead to avoidance, procrastination, or to deliberate attempts to resolve the ambivalence. People experience the greatest discomfort from their ambivalence at the time when the situation requires a decision to be made. People are aware of their ambivalence to varying degrees, so the effects of an ambivalent state vary across individuals and situations. For this reason, researchers have considered two forms of ambivalence, only one of which is subjectively experienced as a state of conflict.

Broader Problems:
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET