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Approach–Avoidance Conflict

Definition

Approach means moving toward something. Avoidance means moving away from it. Obviously you can't move toward and away from the same thing at the same time. Approach–avoidance conflict arises when a goal has both positive and negative aspects, and thus leads to approach and avoidance reactions at the same time. Kurt Lewin introduced the concept, referring to two competing forces of positive and negative valence that act upon an individual in parallel. For example, if a person wants to eat a cake (positive valence) but also wants to avoid gaining weight (negative valence), this constitutes an approach–avoidance conflict that has to be solved. People can also experience approach–approach conflicts (two positive forces are activated; for example, if the person considers two movies worth seeing), avoidance–avoidance ...

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