Just a Good Place to Visit?

Michael G. Pratt and Camille Pradies

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734610
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Just a Good Place to Visit?

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Although historically ambivalence has been treated as something to be avoided or resolved, we argue that research increasingly suggests the benefits of being ambivalent. Specifically, we show how traditional responses to ambivalence, which largely view ambivalence negatively—paralysis, moving against, moving away, moving toward, and vacillation—can sometimes have positive benefits. We also discuss the positive nature of emerging responses to ambivalence: commitment, trust, creativity, openness to change, as well as wisdom and adaptation. We map both the emerging and traditional responses to ambivalence to reveal the various dimensions that underlie them. We also show how emerging responses appear to cluster around two different targets of ambivalence (e.g., relationships vs. knowledge) and discuss the properties of these targets (e.g., hotter vs. colder cognitions). Finally, we discuss the relationship between positivity and ambivalence, and we posit avenues for future research.

Keywords: Positive responses to ambivalence; wisdom and adaptation; stability–flexibility; trust and commitment; openness to change; creativity

Article.  9931 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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