Approach–Avoidance Motivation and Regulatory Focus

Approach–avoidance motivation refers to two fundamentally different causes of behavior. Broadly, approach motivation concerns how one strives toward obtaining desirable stimuli or outcomes, whereas avoidance motivation concerns how one withdraws from undesirable stimuli or outcomes. However, these terms are used by psychologists to refer to several different things. For example, they have been described as evolved biological systems that underlie all behavior, different kinds of goals that people may adopt, strategies that people use when thinking about and working toward their goals, and personality traits that predispose people to construe goals in terms of approach or avoidance.

Approach–Avoidance Theories

The concept of approach–avoidance first appeared in the writings of Ancient Greek philosophers, and later in those of early pioneers in psychology such as William James, Kurt Lewin, ...

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