Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 415–432 | Cite as

Approach and Avoidance Goals and Plans: Their Relationship to Anxiety and Depression

  • Joanne M. DicksonEmail author
  • Andrew K. MacLeod


Numerous studies have identified cognitive and affective similarities and differences between anxiety and depression but relatively little empirical research has studied these emotional disturbances from a motivational perspective. This study investigates individual response-variations on approach and avoidance goals and plans. High anxiety (n = 27), high depression (n = 25), mixed (n = 30), and control (n = 30) adolescents selected from a larger school sample completed tasks that measured number and specificity of personal approach and avoidance goals and plans. High depression and mixed (depression, anxiety) adolescents generated fewer approach goals (but not more avoidance goals), fewer approach plans, more avoidance plans and were less specific in forming their goals and plans than controls. High anxiety adolescents generated more avoidance goals (but not fewer approach goals), more avoidance plans, fewer approach plans, and were less specific in forming approach but not avoidance goals and plans than controls. Overall the findings suggest that approach and avoidance motivational aspects are important in understanding anxiety and depression.

anxiety depression goals and plans 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

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