chapter  3
Approach—Avoidance: A Central Characteristic 01 Personal Goals
ByAndrew J. Elliot, Ron Friedman
Pages 48

Motivated behavior may be energized or directed by a positive or negative event or possibility. For example, a person may desire to attain success or seek to deepen a friendship or, alternatively, a person may desire to avoid failure or seek to avoid the dissolution of a friendship. The former examples represent approach motivation, whereas the latter represent avoidance motivation. This distinction between approach and avoidance motivation has a long history in intellectual thought in general, dating back to the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers, and in scientific psychology more specifically, dating back at least as far as the work of William James (1890). This distinction also has a broad history, as it has been shown to have conceptual and empirical utility within a diversity of psychological literatures (for reviews see Elliot, 1999; Elliot & Covington, 2001).