Meaning of Ambivalence

What is Ambivalence:

Ambivalence is the presence of two opposing interpretations or values ​​in front of the same object or also referred to as ambivalent behavior.

The word ambivalence was first coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939) combining the Latin ambi which means "both" and bravery which indicates "value" or "price". The concept of ambivalence was later popularized by the psychiatrist Freud.

Some synonyms for ambivalence are: ambiguity, duplicity, contradiction, indeterminate, polarized. Antonyms of ambivalence we can find the words definite, precise, exact or clear.

Ambivalence in psychology

In psychology, ambivalence refers to a state, temporary or permanent, where two feelings coexist, generally opposite. This ambivalent situation happens when the attitude towards a fact or object becomes incoherent.

To understand the reason for the incoherence in our attitudes, we must distinguish the three dimensions in which they are divided and where ambivalent behaviors subsist:

  • The rational cognitive dimension: lies the knowledge, belief or opinion about something. Bleuler called this dimension intellectual. Ambivalences in this area include, for example, arguments that incorporate two opposing views.
  • The affective dimension: are those emotions or feelings for or against something. Herein lies the affective ambivalence where, for example, the feelings of love and hate are conjugated at the same time about an object or person.
  • The behavioral dimension: it is defined as the way in which a person reacts to something. Bleuler defines this dimension as volitional, since it is subject to the will. Ambivalent behavioral attitudes occur, for example, in inconsistencies between what you feel and how you act.
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