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Ambivalence in Mother-Adult Child Relations: A Dyadic Analysis


Willson, Andrea E.; Shuey, Kim M.; Elder, Glen H., Jr.; & Wickrama, Kandauda A. S. (2006). Ambivalence in Mother-Adult Child Relations: A Dyadic Analysis. Social Psychology Quarterly, 69(3), 235-252.


The concept of ambivalence represents an interactional process in which individuals evaluate social relations as simultaneously positive and negative. This study investigates ambivalence in interpersonal relations through an empirical analysis of relationships between aging mothers and their adult children from their joint perspectives. Multilevel models examine the influence of dependence on levels of ambivalence in relationship dyads as well as differences in levels of ambivalence between mothers and their adult children. Results suggest that ambivalence increases under conditions of potential dependence, rather than through the help that is more routinely exchanged among family members. Within the relationship, mothers experienced less ambivalence than their sons and daughters; overall findings demonstrate the importance of analyzing multiple perspectives in social relationships.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Psychology Quarterly


Willson, Andrea E.
Shuey, Kim M.
Elder, Glen H., Jr.
Wickrama, Kandauda A. S.