I love certain kinds of mixed signals, dislike other kinds.
The kind I love is when reading a book or watching a movie a character is saying one thing, and meaning another. Or thinking they mean one thing, but their body language is saying something totally different. It adds a wonderful tension to the scene. Will the other people pick up what we as the reader / viewer can see, or will they take what the character says at face value.
The kind I dislike is usually author intervention, when we are told one thing, but shown another. One book that springs to mind is the author saying over and over how intelligent his main character was, and then she did stupid thing after stupid thing, until eventually I stopped believing it. That’s reader or viewer dissonance, in my book. When two things are mutually exclusive, your brain has to pick one, and it won’t be believing the character is intelligent.
One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, does mixed signals so well. The character of Lord Vetinari in particular is good at saying one thing, and meaning the opposite. It’s a hard thing to pin down, but if you have a great mixed signals scene you can think of, let me know. If not, what do you think of mixed signals?