Ambivalence, discomfort, and motivated information processing

Loran F. Nordgren*, Frenk van Harreveld, Joop van der Pligt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


In two studies we examined the nature and consequence of ambivalent attitudes. In the first study, we assessed whether holding ambivalent attitudes was aversive, and tested whether this aversion was resolved through biased information processing. To do this we manipulated participants' attributions of the discomfort associated with an ambivalent message through a pill manipulation (tense vs. relaxed). Participants who attributed their discomfort to their ambivalence reported more negative emotions and generated more one-sided thoughts than participants who attributed their discomfort to the pill. In the second study, we examined the conditions necessary for ambivalence reduction. Results suggest that people spontaneously engage in biased information processing in order to resolve their ambivalence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-258
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Affect
  • Ambivalence
  • Attitudes
  • Consistency
  • Information processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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