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date: 26 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Although historically ambivalence has been treated as something to be avoided or resolved, we argue that research increasingly suggests the benefits of being ambivalent. Specifically, we show how traditional responses to ambivalence, which largely view ambivalence negatively—paralysis, moving against, moving away, moving toward, and vacillation—can sometimes have positive benefits. We also discuss the positive nature of emerging responses to ambivalence: commitment, trust, creativity, openness to change, as well as wisdom and adaptation. We map both the emerging and traditional responses to ambivalence to reveal the various dimensions that underlie them. We also show how emerging responses appear to cluster around two different targets of ambivalence (e.g., relationships vs. knowledge) and discuss the properties of these targets (e.g., hotter vs. colder cognitions). Finally, we discuss the relationship between positivity and ambivalence, and we posit avenues for future research.

Keywords: Positive responses to ambivalence, wisdom and adaptation, stability–flexibility, trust and commitment, openness to change, creativity

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