Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 79–92 | Cite as

The Ability to Live with Incongruence: Aintegration—The Concept and Its Operationalization

  • Jacob LomranzEmail author
  • Yael BenyaminiEmail author


We present the concept of aintegration (not integrated, maintaining incongruence), defined as the human ability to bear cognitive/emotional complexity, manifested in the capability to maintain incongruence and live with inconsistencies, discontinuities, contradictions and paradox, and yet not experience strain or discomfort. After defining aintegration, we present aintegrative-related issues in major psychological areas such as personality, adult development and aging, social and clinical psychology, cognitive processes, and coping with trauma, emphasizing the necessity of aintegration conceptualizations in these theories. We also relate to relevant cognitive, philosophical, and cultural systems of thought. We then present the operationalization of aintegration using a script-type questionnaire [the Aintegration Questionnaire (AIQ)] and three studies that tested its reliability and validity in different contexts: Study 1 revealed that aintegration is higher with age, education, and among divorced/separated people and the non-religious. Study 2 showed that individuals high in aintegration are more likely to report positive life events and to view negative events as not solely negative. Study 3 showed that among adults in middle and old age, aintegration is related to fewer post-traumatic symptoms, even after controlling for the number of traumas. The AIQ showed high internal reliability and divergent validity from need for structure. The findings support the concept of aintegration and its theoretical contribution to adult development and the psychological sciences. Aintegration can serve as an umbrella construct to areas typically investigated separately. Our epilogue emphasizes possible future theoretical evolutions of our concept and further research. The validity of the AIQ measurement supports the importance of the ability to live with incongruence, contradictions and complexity and the potential for this concept to inform research on modern life.


Aintegration Personality Cognitive complexity Incongruence Modernity 



We wish to thank our students: Amir Asnin, Sagi Berger, Yoav Blay, Gili Efrat, Omer Gher, Hadas Klaus, Inbal Herskiya, Ophra Mayshar, Sagit Mezamer, Yael Rothman-Kabir, Rula Abu Salem-Churi, and Shahar Balaban, for their important contributions to parts of the reported experiments. We are thankful for the constructive comments of Irving Alexander, Yechiel Klar, Arie Kruglanski and Dov Shmotkin.

Supplementary material

10804_2015_9223_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (372 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 373 kb)


  1. Abelson, R. (1968). Theories of cognitive consistency. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  2. Aldwin, C., Sutton, K., & Lachman, M. (1996). The development of coping resources in adulthood. Journal of Personality, 64, 837–871.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, P. (2010). What is the science of complexity? In A. Tait & K. Richardson (Eds.), Complexity and knowledge management: Understanding the role of knowledge in the management of social networks (pp. 3–22). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Alport, G. W. (1950). The individual and his religion. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  5. Alport, G. W., & Ross, J. M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Axelrod, R., & Cohen, M. (2000). Harnessing complexity: Organizational implications of a scientific frontier. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  7. Baltes, P., & Smith, J. (2008). The fascination of wisdom: Its nature, ontogeny, and function. Perspectives on Psychological Sciences, 3(1), 56–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Basseches, M. (1975). Dialectical thinking and adult development. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  9. Basseches, M. (1980). Dialectical sschemata: A framework for the empirical study of dialectical thinking. Human Development, 23, 400–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Basseches, M. (2005). The development of dialectical thinking as an approach to integration. Integral Review, 1, 47–63.Google Scholar
  11. Batson, C., & Raynor-Prince, L. (1983). Religious orientation and complexity of thought about existential concerns. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 22(1), 38–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Baumeister, R. (1991). Meanings of life. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  13. Benyamini, Y. (2005). Can high optimism and high pessimism co-exist? Findings from arthritis patients coping with pain. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 1463–1473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Block, J., & Kremen, A. (1996). IQ and ego-resiliency. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 349–361.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Bonanno, G. A., Galea, S., Bucciarelli, A., & Vlahov, D. (2006). Psychological resilience after disaster: New York City in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attack. Psychological Science, 17(3), 181–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Bonnano, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59(1), 20–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Brehm, S. K., & Kassin, S. M. (1996). Social psychology. Boston: Houghton Miffin.Google Scholar
  18. Burleson, B. R., & Caplan, S. E. (1998). Cognitive complexity. In J. C. McCroskey, J. A. Daly, M. M. Martin, & M. J. Beatty (Eds.), Communication and personality: Trait perspectives (pp. 233–286). Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press.Google Scholar
  19. Camus, A. (1942/2000). The myth of sisyphus. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  20. Carstensen, L. L., Turan, B., Scheibe, S., Ram, N., Ersner-Hershfield, H., Samanez-Larkin, G. R., et al. (2011). Emotional experience improves with age: Evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling. Psychology and Aging, 26, 21–33.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Cialdini, R. B., Trost, M. R., & Newsom, T. J. (1995). Preference for consistency: The development of a valid measure and the discovery of surprising behavioral implications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 318–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Clayton, V. (1975). Erikson’s theory of human development as it applies to the aged: Wisdom as contraindicative cognition. Human Development, 18, 119–128.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Cook-Greuter, S. (2000). Mature ego development: A gateway to ego transcendence? Journal of Adult Development, 7(4), 227–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cook-Greuter, S. R. (2004). Making the case for a developmental perspective. Industrial and Commercial Training, 36(7), 275–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Crapanzano, V. (2004). Imaginative horizons: An essay in literary—Philosophical anthropology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Davison, E. H., Pless, A. P., Gugliucci, M. R., King, L. A., Salgado, D. M., Spiro, A, I. I. I., & Bachrach, P. (2006). Late life emergence of early-life trauma. Research on Aging, 28(1), 84–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dohrenwend, B. S., Askenasy, A. R., Krasnoff, L., & Dohrenwend, B. P. (1978). Exemplification of a method for scaling life events: The PERI Life Events scale. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 19, 205–229.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Erikson, E. (1968). Identity, youth and crisis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  29. Furnham, A., & Ribchester, T. (1995). Tolerance of ambiguity: A review of the concept, its measurement and applications. Current Psychology, 14(3), 179–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gergen, K. J. (2001). Psychological science in a postmodern context. American Psychologist, 56(10), 803–813.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Gleick, J. (1988). Chaos: Making a new science. London: Cardinal.Google Scholar
  33. Grossman, I., Na, J., Varnuma, M., Kitayama, S., & Nisbett, R. (2013). A route to well-being, intelligence versus wise reasoning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142, 944–953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hayton, J. C., Allen, D. G., & Scarpello, V. (2004). Factor retention decisions in exploratory factor analyses: A tutorial on parallel analysis. Organizational Research Methods, 7, 191–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hazan, H. (1998). The Double Voice of the Third Age. In J. Lomranz (Ed.), Handbook of aging and mental health: An integrative approach (pp. 183–196). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hellman, B. (2011). Living positively with ambiguity. Traumatology, 17(3), 67–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist, 44, 513–524.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Hobfoll, S. E., & Wells, J. (1998). Conservation of resources, stress and aging: Why do some slide and some spring. In J. Lomranz (Ed.), Handbook of aging and mental health (pp. 121–134). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Horowitz, M. J., Wilner, N., & Alvarez, W. (1979). Impact of event scale: A measure of subjective stress. Psychosomatic Medicine, 41(3), 209–218.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Kahn, R. L. (1994). Opportunities, aspirations, and goodness of fit. In M. W. Riley, R. L. Kahn, A. Foner, & K. A. Mack (Eds.), Age and structural lag: Society’s failure to provide meaningful opportunities in work, family, and leisure (pp. 37–53). Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
  42. Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Kegan, R. (1998). Epistemology, expectation and aging. In J. Lomranz (Ed.), Handbook of aging and mental health: An integrative approach (pp. 197–216). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Koch, E., & Shepperd, J. (2004). Is self-complexity linked to better coping? A review of the literature. Journal of Personality, 72(4), 727–760.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Kramer, D. A., & Woodruff, D. (1986). Relativistic and dialectic thought in three adult age-groups. Human Development, 29, 280–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kruglanski, A. W. (2004). The psychology of closed mindedness. New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  47. Kruglanski, A. W., & Shteynberg, G. (2012). Cognitive consistency as a means to an end: How subjective logic affords knowledge. In B. Gawronski & F. Strack (Eds.), Cognitive consistency: A unifying concept in social psychology (pp. 245–264). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  48. Kuhn, T. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  49. Labouvie-Vief, G. (1980). Beyond formal operations. Human Development, 23, 141–161.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Labouvie-Vief, G., & Medler, M. (2002). Affect optimization and affect complexity: Modes and styles of regulation in adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 17(4), 571–587.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Labov, W. (Ed.). (1972). Language in the inner city: Studies in the Black English vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  52. Levav, I., Krasnoff, L., & Dohrenwend, B. S. (1981). Israeli PERI Life Event Scale: Ratings of events by a community sample. Israel Journal of Medical Sciences, 17, 176–183.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Linville, P. W. (1987). Self-complexity as a cognitive buffer against stress-related illness and depression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 663–676.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Loevinger, J. (1976). Ego development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  55. Lomranz, J. (1995). Endurance and living: Long-term effects of the Holocaust. In S. E. Hobfoll & M. W. De Vries (Eds.), Extreme Stress and Communities: Impact and Intervention (pp. 325–352). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lomranz, J. (1998). An image of aging and the concept of aintegration: Personality, coping and mental health implications. In J. Lomranz (Ed.), Handbook of aging and mental health (pp. 217–254). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lomranz, J. (2002). The mind of the beholder and the eye of aintegration: How social scientists and psychotherapist approach narratives. Paper presented at the 2nd annual international Herzceg conference on aging, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv.Google Scholar
  58. Lomranz, J. (2005). The triangular relationships between: The Holocaust, aging and narrative gerontology. International Journal of Human Development and Aging, 60(3), 255–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lomranz, J. (2007). Personal creativity and creative aging. In S. Carmel, C. Morse, & F. Torres-Gil (Eds.), Lessons on aging from three nations (Vol. I, pp. 5–17)., The art of aging well New York: Baywood.Google Scholar
  60. Lomranz, J., & Benyamini, Y. (2009). Aintegration in management of personal and work-organizational conflicting situations in modern society. Paper presented at the conference on managing the social impacts of change from a risk perspective, organized with CASS, ESRC, RCUK, University of Kent, Beijing Normal University, Beijing.Google Scholar
  61. Lyotard, J. (1988). The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  62. Markus, H., & Wurf, E. (1987). The dynamic self-concept: A social psychological perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 38, 299–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Morgan, H. J., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1994). Positive and negative self-complexity: Patterns of adjustment following traumatic versus non-traumatic life experiences. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 13(1), 63–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Murphy, P., & Pauleen, D. (2007). Managing paradox in a world of knowledge. Management Decision, 45, 1008–1022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Murrell, S. A., Himmelfarb, S., Schulte, P., & Norris, F. (1981). Pretest of candidate measures: Results and final decisions. Working paper #9. NIMH Grant No. R01 MH33063. Louisville: University of Louisville, Urban Studies Center.Google Scholar
  66. Neisser, U., & Fivush, R. (1994). The remembering self. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Neuberg, S. L., & Newsom, J. T. (1993). Personal need for structure: Individual differences in the desire for simple structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 113–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Nisbett, R. E., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Cultural systems of thought: Holistic versus analytic cognition. Psychological Review, 108, 291–310.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Nisman, H. (1995). Soul and memory (Hebrew). Kibbutz Ein Dor: Benei Shaul.Google Scholar
  70. O’Connor, B. P. (2000). SPSS and SAS programs for determining the number of components using parallel analysis and Velicer’s MAP test. Behavior, Research Methods, Instruments & Computers, 32, 396–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Parry, A., & Doan, R. (1994). Story revisions: Narrative therapy in a postmodern world. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  72. Pasupathi, M., Mansour, E., & Brubaker, J. R. (2007). Developing a life story: Constructing relations between self and experience in autobiographical narratives. Human Development, 50(2–3), 85–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Paykel, E. (2001). The evolution of life events research in psychiatry. Journal of Affective Disorders, 62(3), 141–149.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Pizer, S. (1998). Building bridges: The negotiation of paradox in psychoanalysis. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.Google Scholar
  75. Rasch, W., & Wolfe, C. (Eds.). (2000). Observing complexity: Systems theory and postmodernity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  76. Riegel, K. (1973). Dialectic operations: The final period of cognitive development. Human Development, 16, 346–370.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Riegel, K. (1976). The dialectics of human development. American Psychologist, 31, 689–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Rokeach, M. (1960). The open and closed mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  79. Rooke, D. (1997). Organizational transformation requires the presence of leaders who are strategists and magicians. Organisations and People, 4(3), 16–23.Google Scholar
  80. Ryff, C. D. (1991). Possible selves in adulthood and old age: A tale of shifting horizons. Psychology and Aging, 6, 286–295.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Sartre, P. (1943). Being and nothingness. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  82. Shmotkin, D. (2003). Vulnerability and resilience intertwined: A review of research on Holocaust survivors. In R. Jacoby & G. Keinan (Eds.), Between stress and hope: From a disease-centered to a health-centered perspective (pp. 213–233). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  83. Shmotkin, D. (2005). Happiness in face of adversity: Reformulating the dynamic and modular bases of subjective well-being. Review of General Psychology, 9, 291–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Shmotkin, D., & Litwin, H. (2009). Cumulative adversity and depressive symptoms among older adults in Israel: The differential roles of self-oriented versus other-oriented events of potential trauma. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 44, 989–997.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  85. Sinnott, J. D. (2010). The development of logic in adulthood: Postformal thought and its applications. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  86. Suedfeld, P., Fell, C., & Krell, R. (1998). Structural aspects of survivor’s thinking about the Holocaust. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11(2), 233–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2007). Evaluating resource gain: Understanding and misunderstanding posttraumatic growth. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 56, 396–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Tennen, H., & Affleck, G. (1991). Paradox-based treatments. In C. R. Snyder & D. Forsyth (Eds.), Handbook of social and clinical psychology (Vol. 162, pp. 624–643). Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  89. Torbert, W. (1987). Managing the corporate dream: Restructuring for long-term success. Homewood, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin.Google Scholar
  90. Updegraff, J., & Taylor, S. (2000). From vulnerability to growth: Positive and negative effects of stressful life events. In J. Harvey & E. Miller (Eds.), Loss and trauma (pp. 3–21). Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  91. Urry, J. (2005). The complexity turn. Theory, Culture and Society, 22(5), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Vaillant, E. (1993). The wisdom of the ego. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  93. Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J., & Jackson, D. (1967). Pragmatics of human communication. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  94. Webster, D., & Kruglanski, A. W. (1994). Individual differences in need for cognitive closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1049–1062.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  95. Weiss, D. S., & Marmar, C. R. (1997). The Impact of Event Scale-Revised. In J. P. Wilson & T. M. Keane (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma & PTSD (pp. 399–411). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  96. Williams, P., & Drolet, A. (2005). Age-related differences in responses to emotional advertisements. Journal of Consumer Research, 32, 936–949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Winnicott, D. (1971). Playing and reality. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological Sciences and the Herczeg Institute on AgingTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.The Clinical Geropsychology ProgramRuppin Academic CenterEmek HeferIsrael
  3. 3.Bob Shapell School of Social WorkTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

Personalised recommendations