One way and the other: the bidirectional relationship between ambivalence and body movement

Psychol Sci. 2013 Mar 1;24(3):319-25. doi: 10.1177/0956797612457393. Epub 2013 Jan 25.


Prior research exploring the relationship between evaluations and body movements has focused on one-sided evaluations. However, people regularly encounter objects or situations about which they simultaneously hold both positive and negative views, which results in the experience of ambivalence. Such experiences are often described in physical terms: For example, people say they are "wavering" between two sides of an issue or are "torn." Building on this observation, we designed two studies to explore the relationship between the experience of ambivalence and side-to-side movement, or wavering. In Study 1, we used a Wii Balance Board to measure movement and found that people who are experiencing ambivalence move from side to side more than people who are not experiencing ambivalence. In Study 2, we induced body movement to explore the reverse relationship and found that when people are made to move from side to side, their experiences of ambivalence are enhanced.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Young Adult