Attitudinal Ambivalence and Political Opinion: Review and Avenues for Further Research
Most people are not strongly committed to a specific ideology, meaning that in principle they are open to messages advocating opposite sides of any given issue. Especially in the United States, where just two political parties dominate political discourse, it is common for citizens to receive conflicting messages. Such factors create ideal conditions for the induction of attitudinal ambivalence and make politics an important testbed for exploring the bidimensional conceptualization of attitudes that ambivalence implies. The chapters that make up the current volume and its companion, Ambivalence and the Structure of Political Opinion (Craig and Martinez 2005), draw together psychologists and political scientists of various persuasions to provide a timely update on the current state of research on the subject. These chapters cover a broad range of basic and applied work, from current understandings regarding the conceptualization, operationalization, and antecedents of ambivalence to the consequences of ambivalence in relation to topics as diverse as national institutions, legal abortion, the United States as a nation, and voter behavior. In the pages that follow, we provide an overview of the key contributions made by each chapter and draw together some fundamental themes that run through them. We go on to assess the current state of the science of ambivalence before outlining what we regard as promising avenues for further research.
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