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Concept: Ambivalence


In general, sad music is thought to cause us to experience sadness, which is considered an unpleasant emotion. As a result, the question arises as to why we listen to sad music if it evokes sadness. One possible answer to this question is that we may actually feel positive emotions when we listen to sad music. This suggestion may appear to be counterintuitive; however, in this study, by dividing musical emotion into perceived emotion and felt emotion, we investigated this potential emotional response to music. We hypothesized that felt and perceived emotion may not actually coincide in this respect: sad music would be perceived as sad, but the experience of listening to sad music would evoke positive emotions. A total of 44 participants listened to musical excerpts and provided data on perceived and felt emotions by rating 62 descriptive words or phrases related to emotions on a scale that ranged from 0 (not at all) to 4 (very much). The results revealed that the sad music was perceived to be more tragic, whereas the actual experiences of the participants listening to the sad music induced them to feel more romantic, more blithe, and less tragic emotions than they actually perceived with respect to the same music. Thus, the participants experienced ambivalent emotions when they listened to the sad music. After considering the possible reasons that listeners were induced to experience emotional ambivalence by the sad music, we concluded that the formulation of a new model would be essential for examining the emotions induced by music and that this new model must entertain the possibility that what we experience when listening to music is vicarious emotion.

Concepts: Psychology, Experience, Emotion, Music, Feeling, Emotions, Maurice White, Ambivalence


The quality of spousal relationships has been related to physical-health outcomes. However, most studies have focused on relationship positivity or negativity in isolation, despite the fact that many close relationships are characterized by both positive and negative aspects (i.e., ambivalence). In addition, most work has not accounted for the reciprocal nature of close-relationship processes that can have an impact on health. Using a sample of 136 older married couples, we tested whether actor-partner models of relationships that were either primarily positive or ambivalent (i.e., perceived as having both helpful and upsetting aspects) predicted measures of coronary-artery calcification. Results revealed an Actor × Partner interaction whereby coronary-artery calcification scores were highest for individuals who both viewed and were viewed by their spouse as ambivalent. These data are discussed in light of the importance of considering both positive and negative aspects of relationship quality and modeling the interdependence of close relationships.

Concepts: Marriage, Addition, Interpersonal relationship, Subtraction, Ambivalence


Marriage decreases cardiovascular morbidity although relationship quality matters. While some marriages contain highly positive aspects (supportive), marriages may also simultaneously contain both positive and negative aspects (ambivalent). Individuals whose spouses or own behavior is ambivalent may not experience the same cardiovascular-protective benefits of marriage.

Concepts: Family, Marriage, Blood, Cardiovascular system, Ambulatory blood pressure, Love, Spouse, Ambivalence


In evaluative conditioning (EC), the pairing of a positively or negatively valenced stimulus (US) with a neutral stimulus (CS) leads to a corresponding change in liking of the CS. EC research so far has concentrated on using unambiguously positive or negative USs. However, attitude objects are often ambivalent, i.e., can simultaneously possess positive and negative features. The present research investigated whether ambivalence can be evaluatively conditioned and whether contingency awareness moderates this effect. In two studies, positive, negative, neutral, and ambivalent USs were paired with affectively neutral CSs. Results showed standard EC effects that were moderated by contingency awareness. Most interestingly, EC effects were also obtained for the ambivalent USs, indicating that ambivalence can indeed be conditioned. However, contingency awareness seemed to play a lesser role in ambivalence conditioning. Ambivalence EC effects were obtained on subjective and objective direct measures of ambivalence as well as on a more indirect measure.

Concepts: Present, Effect, Effectiveness, Effects unit, Real number, Object, Objective pronoun, Ambivalence


Providing care for a relative with dementia is considered to be a chronic stressor that has been linked to negative mental health consequences for caregivers. A theoretical model was developed and tested to assess the degree to which ambivalence and guilt feelings contribute to caregivers' depressive symptomatology. Participants included 212 dementia family caregivers. In addition to ambivalence and guilt feelings, sociodemographic characteristics, behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, and depressive symptomatology were assessed. Hypotheses derived from the stress and coping model were tested using path analysis. The analysed model showed an excellent fit to the data. In total, 35% of the variance in depressive symptomatology was explained by the assessed variables. Although significant correlations were obtained between frequency and appraisal of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and depression, the obtained model suggests that this effect was mediated through ambivalence. In addition, ambivalence had an indirect effect on depression. The association of ambivalence with depression was explained through feelings of guilt; that is, respondents who reported ambivalent feelings were more likely to experience guilt, leading in turn to greater depressive symptomatology. The findings suggest that dementia caregivers' ambivalence and guilt feelings are relevant for understanding their depressive symptomatology. These factors should be addressed in psychological interventions with caregivers.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Symptoms, Theory, Major depressive disorder, Philosophy of life, Emotions, Ambivalence


This qualitative study aimed to capture the experience of living in the ambivalent space between life and death for adults with recurrent suicide attempts (RSA). It sought to expand upon an earlier study that explored the processes involved in transitioning away from RSA among adults, which revealed that occupying this ambivalent space is a crucial part of this process.

Concepts: Death, Qualitative research, Suicide, Ambivalence


Ambivalence has been described as simultaneous positive and negative emotional experiences. Although ambivalent feelings are often reported by dementia family caregivers, the effect of these feelings on caregivers' mental health has not been studied. Furthermore, the measurement of ambivalence specific to caregiving situations has not been studied. The aims of this study are to analyze the psychometric properties of the Caregiving Ambivalence Scale (CAS) and, drawing upon the stress and coping model, to test whether ambivalent feelings significantly contribute to caregivers' distress.

Concepts: Family, Measurement, Psychometrics, Ambivalence


This longitudinal study was conducted between 2010 (T1) and 2014 (T2) on a random sample from the general Swiss population (N = 2781, 46% male). Results showed that dieters (restrained eaters) who reported lack of success in T2 were overweight in T1, had higher levels of emotional and external eating, overeating, and ambivalence toward eating palatable food in T1, and a significantly increased body mass index (BMI) in the period between T1 and T2. Dieters who reported success in T2 had maintained a normal BMI between T1 and T2, had a higher diet quality in T1 and had maintained regular physical activity for at least one year before T2. The logistic regression revealed that high levels of dispositional self-control provided the most important predictor of being a successful dieter. When controlling for dispositional self-control, high levels of emotional eating, overeating, and ambivalence in T1, together with increases in these levels between T1 and T2, were associated with a decreased likelihood of being a successful dieter in T2. High levels of diet quality in T1 and the maintenance of regular physical activity were associated with an increased likelihood of being a successful dieter in T2. Results suggest that diet success and failure is a long-term phenomenon, partly but not fully explained by dispositional self-control. Independent of self-control persistent patterns of overeating due to emotional eating and ambivalent feelings toward eating palatable food, also explain long-term diet failure. A high diet quality and maintenance of regular physical activity accounted for dieters' long-term success. This is the first study that examined the long-term psychological and behavioral characteristics of successful and unsuccessful restrained eaters.

Concepts: Psychology, Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, Body mass index, Failure, Success, Ambivalence


Intergenerational ambivalence-the simultaneous presence of both positive and negative dimensions of a parent-child tie-is a concept widely used in family studies. Scholars have clarified the measurement of psychological ambivalence, or an individual’s own feelings of ambivalence towards others. Yet research has yet to demonstrate whether-and, if so, how-individuals characterize others as ambivalent. Moreover, relatively little is known about ambivalence in gay and lesbian families. In the present study 60 in-depth interviews were analyzed to identify what the author calls perceived ambivalence in the parent, sibling, extended kin, and “in-law” relationships of gay and lesbian adults. Perceived ambivalence is revealed through gay and lesbian adults' characterizations of family members' simultaneous positive and negative overt and covert beliefs and behavior. In addition, the author refines the concept of collective ambivalence, wherein perceived ambivalence typifies an entire family unit. The findings further revealed the importance of broader sociological factors, such as homophobia, in structuring perceived ambivalence.

Concepts: Family, LGBT, Psychology, Sociology, Real number, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Ambivalence


The objective of this study was to examine factors facilitating and constraining the identification and management of intimate partner violence (IPV) at an emergency department (ED). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 ED employees of a university hospital in the Netherlands. All interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed by using qualitative content analysis in Atlas.ti. Constraining factors were lack of knowledge, awareness, and resources at the ED. ED employees felt many barriers to bringing up IPV. Facilitating factors were good cooperation among staff, the involvement of one team member in producing an IPV protocol, having received training on child abuse, and private consulting rooms. The ED setting and the ED employees' task perception and attitude contained both constraining and facilitating factors: ED employees saw it as their task and responsibility to help IPV victims, but their priorities were to secure a high turnover and treat acute physical problems. Although ED employees expressed openness and willingness to help, they also took the view that victims had a considerable responsibility of their own in disclosing and managing IPV, which led to ambivalent feelings. In conclusion, ED employees faced tensions in IPV identification and management caused by lack of awareness, knowledge and resources, conflicting priorities at the ED, and ambivalent feelings. Improvements can be made by supporting ED employees with guidelines in the form of a protocol and with training that also addresses the tensions ED employees face.

Concepts: Domestic violence, Hospital, Management, Violence, Child abuse, Content analysis, Ambivalence