Most research focuses on the targets of consumer distrust; this research looks at the downstream effects of evoking distrust. To test their hypotheses, the authors ran four experimental studies.
The first three supported their hypotheses. The last study replicated the findings in the more externally valid setting of distrust of a media source, i. Specifically, the commercial boosted the loyalty of actual buyers of the brand, but further decreased the likelihood of non-buyers of the brand to try the product. Further, by lowering attitudinal ambivalence, it may encourage chatter about the brand on social media by consumers who are already convinced of the benefits of the products. For non-buyers, advertising on distrusted platforms will reinforce their negative attitudes towards the brand.
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Information related to the author. Supplementary material 0. Result List. Next article. Related articles. In particular, some traits might increase the likelihood that individuals attempt to reconcile conflicts between positive and negative evaluations of issues. To illustrate, individuals who like to contemplate issues, called need for cognition, might resolve conflicts between positive and negative evaluations and, therefore, demonstrate reduced levels of ambivalence.
Consistent with this argument, Thompson and Zanna showed that individuals who reported a need for cognition were less likely to form both positive and negative evaluations of topics. Personal fear of invalidity might promote ambivalent attitudes. Because of this tendency, called a personal fear of invalidity, some individuals might shun inconsistencies and thus seldom reflect upon positive and negative evaluations towards the same issue. These positive and negative evaluations are not reconciled, and ambivalence thus persists.
Thompson and Zanna did indeed show that personal fear of invalidity was positively related to ambivalent attitudes. This relationship persisted only if individuals felt appreciably involved in the issue. Conner and Sparks acknowledge that personality traits, including need for closure, are not always related to ambivalence. Conceivably, other factors, such as tolerance to ambiguity, might affect whether these traits are related to ambivalence. As Gebauer, Maio, and Pakizeh showed, individuals sometimes feel ambivalent towards people or objects that, actually, seem positive on all key attributes.
They illustrated the example of a person who exhibits the intelligence of Einstein and the humility of Gandhi. They posed the possibility that someone who exhibits these qualities may seem almost too perfect, evoking a sense of ambivalence, despite their positive attributes. They argued this ambivalence can emanate whenever a person, or object, exhibits attributes that, although positive, are semantically incongruent.
That is, elevated levels of agency and communion, in this instance epitomized by intelligence and humility, may seem incongruent. In one study, for example, participants received information about 20 people. Specifically, each of the 20 people were assigned two personality characteristics, such as introverted and cheerful. Participants rated the degree to which these 20 people evoked feelings of felt ambivalence, epitomized by items like "I have mixed thoughts and feelings toward this person".
The effects of attitudinal ambivalence on behavioral intention formation
Other participants judged the degree to which the two traits were positive or negative. In addition, an index of semantic incongruence was created for each pair of traits as well. That is, traits that were similar on agency and communion were perceived as semantically congruent. Traits that were perceived as different on these dimensions were perceived as semantically incongruent. Semantic incongruence was associated with felt ambivalence, even after controlling the degree to which the two traits were similarly positive or negative.
In other words, even if both traits seemed positive or both traits seemed negative, a person who was described by semantically incongruent attributes generated feelings of ambivalence. Subsequent studies replicated this finding.
The reason that semantic incongruence evokes feelings of ambivalence is not certain. The finding cannot be ascribed to a sense of dissonance: in one study, a sense of dissonance did not mediate the relationship between semantic incongruence and felt ambivalence. As fluency declines, certainty about conclusions diminishes as well. Preference for consistency influences the subjective response to ambivalence.
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Consistent with this proposition, in a study conducted by Newby-Clark et al. Then, participants were instructed to c reflect upon only the unfavorable f facets of this policy, before rating the extent to which these facets are negative. Finally, participants evaluated the degree to which they felt torn about this issue as well as answered questions that gauge their preference for consistency. If participants had reported marked positive and negative attitudes towards this issue, they subsequently felt very torn, but only if preference for consistency was elevated.
Ambivalent attitudes, thus, were aversive only to participants who reported a preference for consistency.
As Plambeck and Weber showed, the culture and characteristics of organizations can affect the likelihood that managers will experience ambivalent attitudes towards workplace issues. In particular, if the strategy of an organization is moderate or complex rather than confined to one approach, ambivalence is more prevalent. Furthermore, if managers assume the organization can impose some, but not elevated, control over issues in the environment, ambivalence is also more common. Specifically, in this study, CEOs completed a questionnaire. First, participants reported the extent to which they espouse both positive and negative towards a specific issue, in this instance the expansion or growth of the European Union.
If CEOs adopted both positive and negative evaluations, their attitudes were regarded as ambivalent. Second, the degree to which the organization focuses on the prevention of threat, called defensive cultures, instead of seeking opportunities, called offensive cultures, was evaluated. A typical item was "Our company is usually among the first in the industry to offer new solutions". Finally, the extent to which they feel control over the environment was assessed, with questions like "Our company has the capability to address EU enlargement".
The results were very informative. First, if the strategy was moderate, midway between a defensive and offensive approach, ambivalence was more likely to be demonstrated. According to Plambeck and Weber , this moderate strategy implies that both defensive and offensive approaches are pursued. More dimensions or attributes, therefore, are utilized to evaluate issues. Because many dimensions or attributes are considered, both positive and negative features of an issue or policy are recognized, manifesting ambivalence.
Second, if the extent to which they feel they can control complications in the environment is moderate, rather than particularly low or high, ambivalence was also more likely to be expressed. Limited control of the environment often evokes a sense of helplessness, curbing the effort that is needed to analyze issues carefully and uncover contradictions effectively. Cunningham, Raye, and Johnson examined the brain regions that might underpin attitudes, including ambivalent attitudes. In short, according to this study, the anterior cingulate cortex , the right anterior prefrontal cortex, the medial prefrontal cortex, and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex may be activated when individuals reflect upon topics or objects that provoke ambivalence.
Specifically, Cunningham, Raye, and Johnson undertook an fMRI study that was intended to ascertain the brain regions that underpin attitudes. In this study, concepts were presented, such as murder, love, and abortion. For each concept, they completed one of two tasks.
They sometimes evaluated these concepts explicitly, on a scale that ranges from good to bad.
Alternatively, they determined whether the concept was concrete or abstract--and thus were sometimes exposed to the item without evaluating this topic or object explicitly. In addition, fMRI was used to ascertain which regions were active during these tasks.
Subsequently, participants were asked to estimate the extent to which the concept was good and bad--to gauge ambivalence--and intense in emotion. Finally, participants indicated the extent to which they felt they need to suppress or control their immediate response to each concept. Regardless of the task, the emotional intensity of concepts was correlated with activation of the left amygdala and the orbital frontal cortex. These regions are thus sensitive to intensity, regardless of whether the concepts are evaluated explicitly, thus representing more implicit evaluations.
If participants did evaluate the concept explicitly, intensity was correlated with the right orbital frontal cortex in particular and the temporal pole.