The Interactive Effects of Ambivalence and Certainty on Political Opinion Stability


  • Andrew Luttrell
  • Richard E. Petty
  • Pablo Briñol


Some political attitudes and opinions shift and fluctuate over time whereas others remain fairly stable. Prior research on attitude strength has documented several features of attitudes that predict their temporal stability. The present analysis focuses on two of them: attitudinal ambivalence and certainty. Each of these variables has received mixed support for its relationship with attitude stability. A recent set of studies, however, has addressed this link by showing that ambivalence and certainty interact to predict stability. Because those studies relied exclusively on college student samples and considered issues that may have been especially likely to evince change over time, the present analysis aimed to replicate the original findings in a sample of registered Florida voters with an important politically relevant issue: abortion. Results of these analyses replicated the previous findings and support the generalizability of the ambivalence × certainty interaction on attitude stability to a sample of registered voters reporting their attitudes toward abortion. Implications for public opinion and the psychology of political attitudes are discussed.