Ambivalence is a widely experienced psychological state, but inter-disciplinary studies, to a certain extent, define and conceptualize ambivalence independently. In spite of its lack of clarity, ambivalence has become an increasingly popular concept, utilized in hypotheses concerning a variety of social phenomena. This study provides an overview of extant studies on ambivalence, and summarizes the similarities and differences in how practitioners of social psychology, political science, and sociology have adopted the concept. A survey of literature from the three fields suggests four distinctive definitions of ambivalence or antecedents that have caused ambivalence: (1) co-activation of both positivity and negativity; (2) co-emergence of conflicting attitudes; (3) co-constraint of conflicting values; and (4) co-existence of conflicting reference groups. Some potential problems, such as inconsistent findings and lack of relevant measures or indices are indicated, and alternative methods are suggested. The paper concludes by suggesting a more sophisticated and precise integrative model of ambivalence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science