The benefits of ambivalence

Listened The Benefits of Mixed Emotions | Hidden Brain Media by Hidden Brain Staff from

We’ve all been in situations where we experience mixed emotions. Maybe you’ve felt both joy and sadness during a big life decision, such as whether to purchase a home or accept a job offer. Or maybe you’ve experienced mixed feelings about the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped your life. Psychologist Naomi Rothman says that while these feelings of ambivalence are uncomfortable, they can also serve us in important ways.


  • People don’t like or trust those who express mixed feelings


  • Mixed feelings make us spend more time making a decision or learning more than jumping to a quick answer or decision (when feeling low “closure imperative”)
  • Mixed emotions connected with meaning making

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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