Ambivalence and Implicit-Explicit Discrepancy Are Not the Same Construct

34 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2012

See all articles by Colin Smith

Colin Smith

University of Florida

Brian A. Nosek

University of Virginia

Date Written: August 28, 2012


Attitude ambivalence exists to the extent that one has conflict among evaluations – such as possessing both positive and negative feelings – about an attitude object. Ambivalence has been applied theoretically to anticipate the consequences of having implicit, automatic evaluations that differ from explicit, deliberate evaluations. We investigated whether implicit-explicit discrepancies are a form of ambivalence like the presence of positive and negative evaluations or the discrepancy between thoughts and feelings. Across three studies using five attitude objects and two implicit measures, four explicit measures of ambivalence were positively intercorrelated and predicted outcomes anticipated by ambivalence theories. However, implicit-explicit discrepancy was only once related to other ambivalence measures, and showed virtually no prediction of ambivalence-related outcome variables. These results suggest that implicit-explicit discrepancy is not a form of ambivalence as the construct is presently understood.

Keywords: implicit attitudes, explicit attitudes, ambivalence, discrepancy

Suggested Citation

Smith, Colin and Nosek, Brian A., Ambivalence and Implicit-Explicit Discrepancy Are Not the Same Construct (August 28, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Colin Smith (Contact Author)

University of Florida ( email )

Room 114, Psychology Bldg
P.O. Box 112250
Gainesville, FL 9000
United States

Brian A. Nosek

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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