Predispositions to Approach and Avoid Are Contextually Sensitive and Goal Dependent

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APA Citation: 

Bamford, S., & Ward, R. (2008). Predispositions to approach and avoid are contextually sensitive and goal dependent. Emotion, 8(2), 174–183.

Publication Topic: 
Other Third-Wave Therapies: Empirical
Publication Type: 
approach, avoid, valence, evaluation, response

The authors show that predispositions to approach and avoid do not consist simply of specific motor patterns but are more abstract functions that produce a desired environmental effect. It has been claimed that evaluating a visual stimulus as positive or negative evokes a specific motor response, extending the arm to negative stimuli, and contracting to positive stimuli. The authors showed that a large congruency effect (participants were faster to approach pleasant and avoid unpleasant stimuli, than to approach unpleasant and avoid pleasant stimuli) could be produced on a novel touchscreen paradigm (Experiment 1), and that the congruency effect could be reversed by spatial (Experiment 2) and nonspatial (Experiment 3) response effects. Thus, involuntary approach and avoid response activations are not fixed, but sensitive to context, and are specifically based on the desired goal.

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