Feeling torn when everything seems right: Semantic incongruence causes felt ambivalence

J. E. Gebauer, G. R. Maio, A. Pakizeh

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16 Citations (SciVal)


The co-occurrence of positive and negative attributes of an attitude object typically accounts for less than a quarter of the variance in felt ambivalence toward these objects, rendering this evaluative incongruence insufficient for explaining felt ambivalence. The present research tested whether another type of incongruence, semantic incongruence, also causes felt ambivalence. Semantic incongruence arises from inconsistencies in the descriptive content of attitude objects' attributes (e.g., attributes that are not mutually supportive), independent of these attributes' valences. Experiment 1 manipulated evaluative and semantic incongruence using valence norms and semantic norms. Both of these norm-based manipulations independently predicted felt ambivalence, and, in Experiment 2, they even did so over and above self-based incongruence (i.e., participants' idiosyncratic perceptions of evaluative and semantic incongruence). Experiments 3a and 3b revealed that aversive dissonant feelings play a role in the effects of evaluative incongruence, but not semantic incongruence, on felt ambivalence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-791
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • *Affect,*Attitude,*Conflict (Psycholog,*Conflict (Psychology),*Emotions,2012,2013,Affect,Attitude,Cognitive Dissonance,Communication,Conflict (Psychology),Emotions,Female,Humans,Male,Semantics,Young Adult,a person who seemed,agency-communion,ambivalence,and none-,attitudes,evaluative incongruence,have you ever met,perfect,received september 14,revision accepted january 13,semantic incongruence


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