The Benefits of Mixed Emotions

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.

Additional Resources


When Feeling Mixed Can Be Meaningful: The Relation Between Mixed Emotions and Eudaimonic Well-Being, by Raul Berrios, Peter Totterdell, and Stephen Kellett, Journal of Happiness Studies, 2018.

Microfoundations of Organizational Paradox: The Problem is How We Think About the Problem, by Ella Miron-Spektor, et. al, Academy of Management Journal, 2017.

Feeling Mixed, Ambivalent and in Flux: The Social Functions of Emotional Complexity for Leaders, by Naomi Rothman and Shimul Melwani, The Academy of Management Review, 2016.

The Good and Bad of Ambivalence: Desiring Ambivalence Ender Outcome Uncertainty, by Taly Reich and S. Christian Wheeler, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2016.

Unlocking integrative potential: Expressed emotional ambivalence and negotiation outcomes, Naomi B. Rothman, Gregory B. Northcraft, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2014.

The Ambivalence of Expert Categorizers, by Jessecae Kelly Marsh and Naomi Rothman, Conference Paper: Cognitive Science Society, Berlin, Germany, 2013.

The Ambivalent Mind Can Be a Wise Mind: Emotional Ambivalence Increases Judgment Accuracy, by Laura Lees, Naomi Rothman, Reuvan Lehavy, and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2012.

Steering Sheep: How Expressed Emotional Ambivalence Elicits Dominance in Interdependent Decision Naking Contexts, by Noami Rothman, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2011.

Ambivalence and Decisional Conflict as a Cause of Psychological Discomfort: Feeling Tense Before Jumping Off the Fence, by Frenk van Harreveld, et. al, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2009.


Subscribe to the Hidden Brain Podcast on your favorite podcast player so you never miss an episode.


Go behind the scenes, see what Shankar is reading and find more useful resources and links.