Explicit-Implicit Attitudinal Ambivalence in Romantic Relationships: Antecedents and Outcomes
Previous research has shown that the attitudes individuals hold towards their romantic partner often greatly impact relationship outcomes. Traditionally, attitudes towards one’s romantic relationship were assessed using explicit measures. Implicit measures however recently gained popularity owing to the fact that they have been demonstrated to provide attitudinal information beyond that which is communicated through explicit measures. Given the recent advent of the incorporation of implicit measures into relationship research, and previous conceptualizations that framed attitudes as bipolar, relatively few studies have assessed both explicit and implicit attitudes, let alone explicit-implicit ambivalence. Those that have, have shown explicit-implicit attitudinal ambivalence to influence thoughts and judgments, and predict behaviour/behavioural intentions. Few studies however have taken an interest in the interplay between explicit and implicit measures, and whether antecedents and outcomes differ as a function of a participants’ explicit-implicit ambivalence profile. The present research extends previous literature by examining the antecedents and outcomes specifically associated with each of the two possible attitudinal ambivalence profiles in a relationship context. This study is therefore unique in its’ intentions to investigate and contrast the unique psychological underpinnings of differing relationship-specific ambivalence profiles, while using a never-before combined selection of explicit measures, implicit measures, antecedent and outcome variables. Results indicated significant, positive correlations between explicit measures. Conversely, correlations among the implicit measures were extremely weak. With regards to the explicit-implicit measure correlations, one of the explicit measures consistently produced significant correlations when combined with each of the implicit measures. Both antecedents and outcomes were differentially associated with each of the two ambivalence profiles. Individuals who were low in ambivalence and attachment-related avoidance were more likely to display explicit-implicit ambivalence such that their attitudes were more positive on the implicit measure than the explicit measure. Further, it was when avoidance and ambivalence decreased that the explicit-implicit discrepancy increased.