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.
- Cognitive complexity