ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2012, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (11): 1803-1811.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2012.01803

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The Distinction Between Approach and Avoidance Motivation and Its Implication on Psychopathology

LIU Hui-Jun;GAO Lei   

  1. School of Medical Humanities, Tianjin Medical University, Tian Jin 300070, China
  • Received:2011-11-24 Online:2012-11-15 Published:2012-11-01
  • Contact: LIU Hui-Jun

Abstract: The most fundamental systems of motivation are approach and avoidance, which reflect how individuals interact with the environment and represent the core functions of individuals’ adaption to the environment. Avoidance motivation facilitates thriving of an individual, whereas approach motivation facilitates surviving. The two motivation systems are asymmetrically locate in the prefrontal cortex. Approach Motivation is linked to the left PFC activation, whereas avoidance motivation corresponds to the right PFC activation. Youngstorm and Izard etc. suggested that dysregulation of the approach and avoidance systems might result in some emotional and behavioral disorders, including mania, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. This association has been confirmed by some epidemiological and clinical studies. Future research should focus on the role of approach and avoidance motivation on emotion and cognitive function. More evidence should be provided to verify the dysregulation model and the plasticity of the two systems.

Key words: approach, avoidance, motivation, emotion, asymmetrical frontal cortical activity