Winding paths: Ambivalence in consumers' buying processes

Jenni Sipilä*, Sanna Sundqvist, Anssi Tarkiainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates ambivalence in the buying process. The existing literature has rarely studied ambivalence in longitudinal processes and has therefore not been able to capture its dynamics. Those studies that have studied ambivalence longitudinally have focused on general attitudinal ambivalence rather than its subtypes (cognitive, affective, and intercomponent ambivalence) and have therefore ignored some of the more detailed dynamics. Hence, this study addresses these different types of ambivalence longitudinally, exploring what these different ambivalences consist of, what their roles are in the buying process, and how they occur under different types of involvement conditions. A longitudinal video diary method is used in conjunction with a multimodal analysis technique to explore not only the verbally expressed aspects of ambivalence but also its nonverbal expression, which further reveals differences between different types of ambivalence. The findings suggest that cognitive ambivalence involves conflicting evaluations of utilitarian brand and product aspects and is resolved through more effortful mechanisms, whereas intercomponent ambivalence involves conflicting evaluations of varying utilitarian, hedonic, and symbolic brand and product aspects and is resolved through both more and less effortful mechanisms. Finally, affective ambivalence involves conflicting anticipations about the outcome of the buying process but is not resolved through similarly clear mechanisms. As the key outcome of the exploration, propositions and a synthesising framework about the different types of ambivalence in the buying process are developed for future research. This paper hence contributes to the ambivalence literature and offers managerial implications especially for marketers of multifaceted and high-involvement products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e93-e112
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • ambivalence
  • buying process
  • consumer behaviour

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