Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version


  • Mark R. HoffarthAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Brock University Email author 
  • , Gordon HodsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Brock University


Inconsistent attitude; Mixed evaluations; Psychological conflict


Ambivalence refers to the simultaneous presence of conflicting attitudes toward an attitude target, most commonly the presence of both positive and negative attitudes (Kaplan 1972).


An ambivalent (i.e., “many valenced”) attitude is distinguished from a univalent (i.e., “single valenced”) attitude in that an ambivalent attitude indicates the presence of both positive and negative attitudes, whereas a univalent attitude is conceptualized as bipolar, with positive and negative attitudes on opposing ends of a spectrum. Ambivalence may reflect conflicting attitudes in terms of conflicting affect, behavior, or cognition. In addition, ambivalence may also reflect conflicting attitudes among any combination of affect, behavior, and cognition (e.g., positive affect but negative cognitions; Thompson et al. 1995). Overall, there is not a general consensus on specifically how ambivalence should be conceptu ...

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