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Approach-Avoidance Motivation Research Group

Group Picture

Approach and avoidance motivation are fundamental and basic to human functioning, and the approach-avoidance perspective is a highly generative and informative lens through which to examine social, personality, and developmental processes. Accordingly, our research group investigates a variety of different topics across diverse disciplines of psychology, using a multitude of research methodologies (laboratory experiments, longitudinal studies, prospective studies, and archival analyses). 

Our lab is comprised of graduate students in social-personality psychology, as well as post-docs and visiting professors, often from countries outside the US. We have ongoing collaborations with a number of other labs around the country and world. We can be reached by contacting Dr. Andrew Elliot at or Dr. Elliot's assistant, Christine Schulz, at

Ongoing programs in our research group:

  • Achievement goal structure and process: Examining the different ways in which individuals approach success and avoid failure in their goal pursuits, and the implications of differential goal pursuit for affect, cognition, and behavior.
  • Approach and avoidance social goals: Examining the structure of social goals, as well as the antecedents and consequences of pursuing different types of approach and avoidance-focused social goals.
  • Subtle cues that trigger approach and avoidance motivation: Examining the way in which subtle cues (e.g., shape, color) from different sensory systems impact motivation.
  • Competition and motivation: Examining how competition in all its forms (trait, perceived, structural) influences psychological processes and outcomes.

For an overview of Dr. Elliot's area of research see his "Handbook of Competence and Motivation, 2nd Edition: Theory and Application (Guilford Press)"

Selected Publications

In Press