Document Type


Publication Date



Political Science


Research across disciplines, including political science, has embraced the idea that individuals often possess ambivalent attitudes, but there is considerable disagreement about how to measure ambivalence. Determining an effective way of capturing such phenomena is important to our understanding of politics and public opinion. The literature offers several meta-attitudinal and operative measures of ambivalence. I discuss strengths and weaknesses of each of these approaches and conduct a test of the relative construct validity of two meta-attitudinal and two operative measures of social welfare ambivalence using data from a statewide survey of Florida residents in 2004. The findings suggest that one of the operative measures that forces respondents to rate their positive and negative feelings separately performs better than any of the other approaches currently offered. I conclude with a discussion of the implications for researchers and practitioners.

Original Publication Information

This article was published in American Review of Politics, volume 29, pages 109-134.