Approach and Avoidance Motivation
Approach and avoidance motivation is composed of three conceptually distinct components. Approach indicates a propensity to move toward (or maintain contact with) a desired stimulus. Avoidance indicates a propensity to move away from (or maintain distance from) an undesired stimulus. Motivation is defined as the energization and direction of behavior. The valence of stimuli is at the core of the distinction between approach and avoidance, with positively valenced stimuli typically leading to approach and negatively valenced stimuli typically leading to avoidance. Stimuli can be external or internal, implicit or explicit, conscious or non-conscious.
The distinction between approach and avoidance has roots extending back to the time of the ancient Greek philosophers. Philosophers such as Democritus and Aristippus used the concept of hedonism to describe how people should live. The...
- Crites, S., & Cacioppo, J. (1996). Electrocortical differentiation of evaluative and nonevaluative categorizations. Psychological Science, 7, 318–321.Google Scholar
- Elliot, A. J., & Church, M. A. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 218–232.Google Scholar
- Elliot, A. J., & McGregor, H. A. (2001). A 2 × 2 achievement goal framework. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 501–519.Google Scholar
- Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. The American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.Google Scholar
- James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology (Vol. 2). New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
- Schneirla, T. (1959). An evolutionary and developmental theory of biphasic processes underlying approach and withdrawl. In M. Jones (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 1–42). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
- Wundt, W. (1887). Grundzüge der physiologischen psychologie (3rd ed.). Leipzig: Engelmann.Google Scholar