Psychological Experience of Attitudinal Ambivalence As a Function of Manipulated Source of Conflict and Individual Difference in Self-Construal



Citation:

Kiwan Park, Joseph R. Priester, and Richard E. Petty (2002) ,"Psychological Experience of Attitudinal Ambivalence As a Function of Manipulated Source of Conflict and Individual Difference in Self-Construal", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 287-289.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Pages 287-289

PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERIENCE OF ATTITUDINAL AMBIVALENCE AS A FUNCTION OF MANIPULATED SOURCE OF CONFLICT AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCE IN SELF-CONSTRUAL

Kiwan Park, University of Michigan, U.S.A.

Joseph R. Priester, University of Michigan, U.S.A.

Richard E. Petty, Ohio State University, U.S.A.

Kyu-Hyun Lee, Hannam University, Korea

Yu-Peng Wang, Shih Chien University, Taiwan

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

Introduction

Attitudinal Ambivalence. Attitudes are generally viewed as global evaluations of objects, issues, or persons that are represented in long-term memory (e.g. Ajzen 1987; Cooper and Croyle 1984; Fazio 1986; Petty and Wegener 1998). Recent research has suggested that attitudes are not simply positive or negative evaluations, but instead can be the result of both positive and negative evaluative reactions (see, for example, Thompson, Zanna, and Griffin 1995; Priester and Petty 1996, 2001). The tension in the evaluation that results from these different reactions has been conceptualized as ambivalence. Recent research has suggested two distinct sources of ambivalence. The goal of this research is to explore the relative influence of each source of ambivalence on feelings of evaluative tension as a function of self-construal.

Two Antecedents of Attitudinal Ambivalence. Historically, ambivalence has been conceptualized as a result o the tension between an individual’s own positive and negative reactions. We refer to this source of ambivalence as the intrapersonal attitudinal ambivalence. Recent research (Priester & Petter, 2001) has provided evidence of a second source: There is an independent influence on ambivalence to the extent that an individual’s attitude differs from that of important others’. We refer to this source of ambivalence as interpersonal attitudinal ambivalence. We hypothesize that these two sources of ambivalence should be differentially influential in causing feelings of ambivalence, depending upon whether individuals are concerned with their own thoughts and feelings or rather are concerned with the thoughts and feelings of others.

Individual Difference in Self-Construal. Self-construal is one of the most important features that distinguish among different cultural orientations. Research suggests that individuals are likely to assume one of two different construalsBindependent or interdependent (e.g., Aaker and Maheswaran 1997; Fiske et al. 1998; Markus and Kitayama 1991; Triandis 1995). Individuals with independent self-construal see themselves and others as being composed of a set of 'internal’, 'personal’ attributes such as abilities, thoughts, subjective feelings, beliefs, and attitudes. These attributes mainly come from one’s self, largely independent of others and characterize the person regardless of the situation. A human being is considered a coherent, stable, autonomous and free entity, and, therefore, distinguishable from others on the basis of such internal attributes. Findings have suggested that individuals from Western cultures, such as the United States, are more likely to assume an independent self-construal.

In contrast, those individuals with interdependent self-construal view themselves and others as inherently connected to others, and more broadly to their social context. Empathy, reciprocity, belongingness, respect, and social obligations are important tasks of the self, so people experience themselves as mutually interdependent. A human being is perceived as a connected, fluid, flexible, and committed being who is bound to others. Findings have suggested that individuals from Eastern cultures, such as China, are more likely to assume an interdependent self-construal.

The most significant difference between independent and interdependent self-construals is in the role that is assigned to the other in self-definition (Markus and Kitayama 1991, p. 245). Significant others are included within the self in the interdependent self-construal. Thus, the interdependent self is likely to be more influenced by external factors such as relationships and roles than by internal attributes. Although social contexts are important for both independent and interdependent construals, an interdependent self is likely to be more susceptible to interpersonal influence. In contrast, one’s own thoughts and feelings are central to the self in the independent self-construal. Thus, the independent self is likely to be more influenced more by internal reactions and states.

Hypothesis. We draw upon these findings in order to arrive at our hypothesis concerning the role of individual difference in self-construal on attitudinal ambivalence. Recall that prior research suggests that attitudinal ambivalence can be the result of either intrapersonal (i.e., conflict in one’s own thoughts and feelings) or interpersonal (i.e., conflict between one’s own and other’s thoughts and feelings). We hypothesize these influences will be moderated by an individual’s self-construal. Specifically, we hypothesize that intrapersonal conflict, such as possessing both positive and negative reactions towards an attitude object, will influence ambivalence more for individuals with independent than interdependent self-construals. In contrast, we hypothesize that interpersonal conflict, such as holding an attitude different from important others, will influence ambivalence more for individuals with interdependent than independent selfconstruals. Thus, we specifically hypothesize that there should emerge a Source of Conflict X Self-Construal interaction on attitudinal ambivalence.

Experiment

A total of 172 participants were given a set of scenarios to read and evaluate. Source of conflict was manipulated in these scenarios. All scenarios asked the participants to imagine that they were considering job offers. In the intrapersonal conflict scenario, participants read that the person held both positive and negative reactions towards a job offered. In the interpersonal conflict scenario, participants read that the person’s family and close friends did not like the job offer. All participants read both scenarios and provided indicators of their feelings of attitudinal ambivalence towards both job offers. At the end of the experiment, all participants completed an individual difference measure of self-construal (Singelis, 1994). Participants were categorized as either high or low in both independence and interdependence. Those participants who scored high on independence and low on interdependence were classified as independent. Those participants who scored low on independence and high on interdependence were classified as interdependent. Thus, the design of the experiment is a 2 (source of conflict; intrapersonal versus interpersonal) X 2 (self-construal; independent versus interdependent) mixed factorial in which the first factor is within-participant and the second factor is between-participant.

TABLE 1

MEAN SCORES OF CHANGE IN ATTITUDINAL AMBIVALENCE ACROSS CELLS

FIGURE 1

ATTITUDINAL AMBIVALENCE AS A FUNCTION OF MANIPULATED SOURCES OF CONFLICT AND SELF-CONSTRUAL

Results. The ambivalence measures were subjected to a mixed ANOVA analysis. The results for the attitudinal ambivalence measure revealed the predicted two-way interaction, F(1, 74)=4.86, p<.05 (See Figure 1). This interaction revealed that the attitudinal ambivalence of individuals with more interdependent self-construals possessed greater evaluative tension when the source of the conflict was interpersonal (M=4.35) than intrapersonal (M=3.25), whereas the attitudinal ambivalence of individuals with more independent self-construals revealed greater evaluative tension when the source of the conflict was intrapersonal (M=2.84) than interpersonal (M=2.52) (See Table 1).

Summary. The present research provides support for the notion that individual difference in self-construal is important in understanding the psychological mechanism that underlies attitudinal ambivalence. Interestingly, this research suggests that how the sources of conflict influence attitudinal ambivalence is moderated by self-construal: individuals with independent self-construal reveal the influence of intrapersonal conflict, whereas individuals with interdependent self-construal reveal the influence of interpersonal conflict.

REFERENCES

Aaker, J. and D. Maheswaran (1997), "The Effect of Cultural Orientation on Persuasion," Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (12), 315-328

Ajzen, I. (1987), "Attitudes, Traits and Actions: Dispositional Prediction of Behavior in Personality and Social Psychology," Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. L. Berkowitz, New York: Academic Press, 20, 1-62

Cooper, J. and R. T. Croyle (1984), "Attitudes and Attitude Change," Annual Review of Psychology, 35, 395-426

Fazio, R. H. (1986), "How Do Attitudes Guide Behavior?," The Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: Foundation of Social Behavior, R. M. Sorrentino and E. T. Higgns, New York: Guilford Press, 204-243

Fiske, A., S. Kitayama, H. Markus, and R. Nisbett (1998), "The Cultural Matrix of Social Psychology," The Handbook of Social Psychology, Vol. 2, eds. D. T. Gilbert and S. Fiske, McGraw-Hill, Boston, 915-981

Markus, H. R. and S. Kitayama (1991), "Culture and the Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion and Motivation," Psychological Bulletin, 98 (2), 224-253

Petty, R. E. and D. T. Wegener (1998), "Attitude Change: Multiple Roles for Persuasion Variables," in D. Gilbert, S. Fiske, and G. Lindzey (eds.), The Handbook of Social Psychology, 4th ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, 323-390

Priester, J. R. and R. E. Petty (1996), "The Gradual Threshold Model of Ambivalence: Relating the Positive and Negative Bases of Attitudes to Subjective Ambivalence," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71 (3), 431-449

Priester, J. R. and R. E. Petty (2001), "Extending the Bases of Subjective Attitudinal Ambivalence: Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Antecedents of Evaluative Tension," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in press

Singelis, T. (1994), "The Measurement of Independent and Interdependent Self-Construals," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 580-591

Thompson, M. M., M. P. Zanna, and D. W. Griffin (1995), "Let’s Not Be Indifferent about (Attitudinal) Ambivalence," Attitude Strength: Antecedents and Consequences, (eds.) R. E. Petty and J. A. Krosnick. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 361-386

Triandis, H. C. (1995), Individualism and Collectivism, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

----------------------------------------

Authors

Kiwan Park, University of Michigan, U.S.A.
Joseph R. Priester, University of Michigan, U.S.A.
Richard E. Petty, Ohio State University, U.S.A.



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002



Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More

Featured

R3. In Experiences We Trust: From Brand-centric Experiences to Experience-centric Brands

Melissa Archpru Akaka, University of Denver
Ana Babic Rosario, University of Denver
Gia Nardini, University of Denver

Read More

Featured

“Slim-As-Luxury” Effect: Product Shape as Input to Luxury Perceptions

Ji Jill Xiong, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Yu Ding, Columbia University, USA
Gita Venkataramani Johar, Columbia University, USA

Read More

Featured

Examining the Link between Predicted Identity Change and Future Well-Being

Joseph Reiff, University of California Los Angeles, USA
Hal Hershfield, University of California Los Angeles, USA
Jordi Quoidbach, ESADE Business School, Spain

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.