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Abstract

Extant research has found a relation between holding conflicting attitudes with a familiar person (interpersonal discrepancy) and subjective attitude ambivalence. In 2 studies, we investigated the role of interpersonal discrepancy in the experience of attitude ambivalence as a function of self-monitoring and level of liking of the other person. Building on balance theory, we proposed and found that high (vs. low) self-monitors feel most comfortable when they are in agreement with liked (vs. disliked) others. In Study 1, 80 university students revealed that when the significant other is a parent, high self-monitors feel more subjective ambivalence when there is more interpersonal discrepancy. In Study 2, 37 university students reported their feelings of subjective ambivalence when considering the interpersonal discrepancy between liked (vs. disliked) familiar people. Again, it was high self-monitors who were most susceptible to increased feelings of subjective ambivalence, particularly for discrepancies between their own attitude and the attitude of liked others. Taken together, our 2 studies broaden our understanding of the interpersonal foundations of subjective ambivalence by suggesting that they may depend on personality differences and the nature of the social relationship.