Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Don't: Citizens' Ambivalence About Abortion

Authors


Abstract

Recent research has recognized that many people simultaneously hold positive and negative attitudes about important political issues. This paper reviews the concept of attitudinal ambivalence and introduces a survey measure of ambivalence adapted from the experimental literature. An analysis of two statewide telephone surveys of Florida voters reveals that (1) a number of voters have ambivalent attitudes about abortion rights; (2) the amount of ambivalence varies according to the circumstances (elective versus traumatic) under which an abortion is obtained; (3) ambivalence about elective abortions is essentially unrelated to ambivalence about traumatic abortions; (4) voters who support abortion rights are more ambivalent about elective abortions than about traumatic abortions, whereas the pattern is reversed for abortion rights opponents; and (5) extreme views in support of or opposition to abortion rights can sometimes mitigate the amount of ambivalence felt by voters.

Ancillary