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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2009 Feb;13(1):45-61. doi: 10.1177/1088868308324518.

The agony of ambivalence and ways to resolve it: introducing the MAID model.

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Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.


People are generally averse toward conflict between beliefs and/or feelings underlying their attitudes-that is, attitudinal ambivalence. This review integrates literature on attitudinal ambivalence with theories on decision making and coping strategies to gain a better understanding of when and how people deal with feelings of ambivalence. First it shows that ambivalence is experienced as being particularly unpleasant when the ambivalent attitude holder is confronted with the necessity to make a choice concerning the ambivalent attitude object; then, incongruent evaluative components of the attitude become accessible, and feelings of uncertainty about the potential outcomes arise, which may involve the anticipation of aversive emotions. Several coping strategies are employed when ambivalence is experienced as unpleasant. Emotion- and problem-focused coping strategies are discussed. The article concludes with a discussion of the MAID (model of ambivalence-induced discomfort), which aims to describe the consequences of ambivalence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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