Motivation and Emotion

, 33:400 | Cite as

Protection, payback, or both? Emotional and motivational mechanisms underlying avoidance by victims of transgressions

  • Collin D. Barnes
  • Ryan P. BrownEmail author
  • Lindsey L. Osterman
Original Paper


In the wake of an interpersonal offense, victims often feel motivated to avoid their perpetrators, and the more severe the offense, the more pronounced this motivation is. On the surface, avoidance appears to serve a self-protective function such that victims, compelled by a sense of fear and apprehension, withdraw from their wrongdoers to prevent further harm. However, avoidance might also serve a retaliatory purpose in which victims shun their offenders out of anger and hostility, using interpersonal aloofness as a means of payback. In the present pair of studies, we examined victims’ self-reports of recent offense experiences and tested the mediating roles of fear and anger in the relationship between offense severity and avoidance motivations. Study 1 revealed that anger, not fear, was the emotion that mediated this relationship. Study 2 replicated this finding and also showed that the link between anger and avoidance was mediated both by revenge and self-protection motives, which demonstrates the complex nature of avoidance following a transgression.


Avoidance Revenge Self-protection Anger Fear Transgressions Forgiveness Interpersonal motivations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Collin D. Barnes
    • 1
  • Ryan P. Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsey L. Osterman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of OklahomaNormanUSA

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