Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 82, issue 2 (2002) pp. 157-166
The relation between conflicting evaluations of attitude objects (potential ambivalence) and associated unpleasant feelings (felt ambivalence) was investigated. Participants indicated their potential and felt ambivalence about capital punishment (Studies 1 and 2) and abortion (Studies 1-3). The simultaneous accessibility (J. N. Bassili, 1996) of participants' potential ambivalence (i.e., how quickly and equally quickly conflicting evaluations came to mind) was measured using response latency (Studies 1-3) and manipulated by repeated expression (Study 3). The relation between potential ambivalence and felt ambivalence was strongest when potential ambivalence was high in simultaneous accessibility (Studies 1-3). This pattern was most pronounced for participants who were high in preference for consistency (Study 3; R. B. Cialdini, M. R. Trost, & T. J. Newsom, 1995). Similarities of ambivalence and cognitive dissonance constructs are discussed.
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