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Approach Avoidance Conflict

Approach-avoidance conflict is a psychological dilemma in which an individual is attracted to a goal or stimulus and experiences negative feelings or aversion towards it, leading to conflicting motivations and behavior.


What is Avoidance Conflict?

what is approach-avoidance conflictConflict situations give rise to three possibilities, one being approach-avoidance conflict. In this type of conflict, individuals must weigh a goal's desirable and undesirable elements, much like a decision-making process. The uncertainty and fear of missing out on an advantage can lead to stress and constant thought and reflection, and people may experience approach-avoidance conflict at any given moment. The two other types of conflict are approach-approach and avoidance-avoidance.


Approach-Approach Conflict

Approach-approach conflict arises when a person is faced with a choice between two equally desirable options. For instance, they may have to decide which movie to watch. Both options offer several advantages, such as the same ticket price, the opportunity to go out and have fun, one movie featuring their favorite actress, and the other starring their favorite actor.


Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict

Avoidance-avoidance conflict occurs when a person has to choose between two equally undesirable options. For instance, they may have to decide whether to tell someone the truth, even though it may be painful for both parties. The negative consequences of this decision could include hurting the other person's feelings while not wanting to hide the truth, fearing the end of a relationship while not wanting the other person to feel embarrassed, or endangering themselves.

Approach-approach and avoidance-avoidance conflicts can be emotionally conflicting, and this conflict can manifest in behaviors such as procrastination, delay, and disorganization. These conflicts are intrapersonal, meaning they occur within an individual's mind, and self-self communication is crucial in determining the factors impacting oneself. Although external factors and influences may be present, the ultimate decision is in the hands of the individual. It is important to confront the disadvantages of the end decision by choosing between the two choices and resolving the internal conflict.


Conflict Resolution

Approach-approach and avoidance-avoidance conflicts are inherent to human nature, so it is essential to consider how to confront them and take appropriate actions. People tend to approach conflict in unique ways, reflecting and strengthening their identity. Individuals must understand their preferred action style when engaging in conflict as it helps them determine their goals and values, leading to personal growth.

Understanding conflict resolution with critical thinking rather than emotions is beneficial for future conflicts as individuals learn to confront conflict more effectively. Practicing critical thinking skills leads to better decision-making, reducing avoidance of conflict.


Open Mindedness

Maintaining an open mind supports the creation of goals, and decision-making can sometimes take days as individuals weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option. This prolonged decision-making process often leads to anxiety and tension as individuals struggle to conclude. Having an open mind can help in such situations as it encourages the exploration of new ideas and reacting accordingly. Open-mindedness is also an effective way to identify obstacles hindering achieving one's goals and beliefs.


Clear Intentions

Approach-avoidance conflict can often lead to pessimism, stress, and anxiety, which can cloud an individual's judgment and make it difficult to have clear intentions. In such situations, focusing on approaching the conflict with awareness is crucial to gain clarity and reach a final decision. Having a clear, single goal can make navigating the conflict easier, as individuals know what they stand for and what they seek to achieve.

Taking an objective but positive approach by laying out all the facts of a conflict can help individuals fully analyze how the end decision may affect their life and environment. Being truthful with oneself is essential in making the right decision, regardless of the fears attached to missing out on a potential advantage. By doing so, individuals can approach conflicts with a clear and focused mindset.


Acting Upon Choice

When individuals clearly understand their values, beliefs, and needs, they can effectively navigate decision-making processes. By weighing the pros and cons of a situation, they can take proactive steps to address internal conflicts and make informed choices between the two options.

For instance, if someone desires to switch careers or jobs, their mind can guide them on utilizing their skills best to secure the desired position. While there is always the risk of failure or rejection, having confidence in their abilities and being confident in their desired path can ultimately lead to success.


Approaching Avoidance Conflict: Tips for Effective Decision Making

tips for effective decision makingDeciding carefully and weighing the pros and cons of a goal can be daunting. Many factors can influence the final decision, including ethics, values, ideologies, age, financial situation, location, cultural background, stress levels, personality, and social circle.

Still, once an individual reaches a resolution, they achieve an equilibrium point. This equilibrium point helps them avoid choosing a negative goal and instead encourages them to embrace the advantages of their decision. It is akin to a weight balance, where negative and positive feelings are on opposite scales, and one must choose the heaviest mass, i.e., the more practical and feasible choice.


Psychological Distance

The first step is to create a psychological distance between an individual's current situation and their desired outcome. If a goal seems too far away, it can increase the likelihood of procrastination. On the other hand, if progress has already been made towards a goal, momentum can drive continued effort.


Find a Strong Reason

Understanding one's goals is crucial for approaching the avoidance of conflict. Purpose gives meaning to a decision and encompasses an individual's values, aspirations, and vision for the future. Individuals can make more effective and meaningful choices by focusing on short-term and long-term goals.


Make a Desired Choice

Once a strong reason has been identified, individuals can confidently decide and act toward their goals. Ambition drives individuals towards their desired outcome, motivating them to take action and succeed in achieving their purpose.


Consider Goals

Prioritizing goals is essential to avoid overwhelming stress and avoidance of goal-setting. Setting specific goals can provide clarity and direction when facing uncertainties or doubts. Seeking assistance from tutors, researching courses, and consulting with academic advisors or trusted friends and family who have pursued similar goals can provide helpful guidance.

By following these tips, individuals can approach-avoidance conflict with a clear mindset and make decisions that align with their values, aspirations, and purpose.


Positive and Negative Aspects of Approach Avoidance Conflict

Approach-avoidance conflict involves having both positive and negative aspects when making a decision. The positive aspects of the approach involve pursuing a desirable outcome that aligns with one's goals and values. On the other hand, the negative aspects of avoidance involve the fear of making the wrong decision or facing negative consequences. While such conflicts differ based on the situation at hand, here are some of the common aspects people experience:



Approach avoidance conflict can positively affect an individual's well-being and decision-making process. Here are some of the positive aspects:

  1. Clarity: When faced with a decision involving approach-avoidance conflict, it can clarify what is truly important to the individual. This clarity can lead to a stronger sense of purpose and direction in life.

  2. Motivation: Approach avoidance of conflict can also serve as a source of motivation. It can provide the drive to overcome obstacles and achieve the desired outcome.

  3. Growth: Facing and resolving conflict can lead to personal growth and development. It can help individuals build resilience and problem-solving skills, supporting future situations.

  4. Increased self-awareness: Avoiding conflict can also allow individuals to understand themselves better, their values, and their priorities. This increased self-awareness can lead to more fulfilling and authentic life choices.


Approach avoidance conflict can also have positive aspects, such as:

  1. Increased stress: When faced with approach-avoidance conflict, individuals may experience increased stress levels due to difficulty making decisions.

  2. Procrastination: Individuals may avoid making decisions and procrastinate instead, leading to missed opportunities and regret.

  3. Indecision: The conflict between a decision's positive and negative aspects can make it challenging for individuals to make a choice, leading to indecision and a sense of being stuck.

  4. Regret: After making a decision, individuals may experience regret if they feel they made the wrong choice or missed out on other opportunities.

  5. Anxiety: The uncertainty of the outcome can lead to anxiety and worry, impacting an individual's mental and emotional well-being.


Frequently Asked Questions

frequently asked questions about approach-avoidance conflict

What Is An Example Of Approach Avoidance Conflict?

One example is marriage. The positive factors include love, companionship, family building, sharing memories, and achieving relationship goals. These aspects can help an individual in making a decision. However, there are potential negative aspects of marriage that can lead to approach-avoidance conflicts, such as arguments leading to mental stress, financial issues, conflicting beliefs or values with one's partner, and problems with in-laws. These negative impacts can create internal struggles and cause an individual to avoid making decisions.

Another example of approach-avoidance conflict is when a person wants to indulge in a cake or sugary baked goods. The positive aspect is the enjoyment of a tasty treat. The negative aspect is the desire to avoid gaining weight and developing unhealthy eating habits.


What Are The Techniques For Conflict Avoidance?

There are several techniques for conflict avoidance, including:

  1. Communication: Effective communication can prevent conflicts from arising in the first place. Parties can reach a mutual understanding and prevent misunderstandings by openly discussing concerns and issues.

  2. Active listening: Active listening involves fully focusing on what the other person is saying and attempting to understand their point of view. This technique can help reduce misunderstandings and prevent conflicts from escalating.

  3. Compromise: Compromising involves finding a middle ground between two conflicting ideas or goals. By compromising, both parties can feel their needs and wants are being met.

  4. Collaboration: Collaboration involves working together to develop a solution that benefits both parties. This technique is particularly useful when both parties are vested in the outcome.

  5. Avoidance: In some occasions, people may benefit from avoiding conflicts altogether. This can involve simply walking away from a situation likely to escalate into a conflict.

  6. Mediation: Mediation involves bringing in a neutral third party to help resolve a conflict. The mediator can help both parties understand each other's perspectives and find a mutually agreeable solution.

  7. Assertiveness: Being assertive involves standing up for oneself and expressing one's needs and wants clearly and directly. This technique can help prevent conflicts by setting clear boundaries and expectations.


What Does Cause Approach Avoidance Conflict?

Approach-avoidance conflicts arise from an internal struggle influenced by external factors. These conflicts can involve weighing one or more choices' positive and negative aspects through clashing motivations and goals. Indecision can be further complicated by an individual's actions or reactions, resulting in unintended consequences.


Approach-avoidance conflict - Wikipedia

Approach-Avoidance Conflict | Overview & Examples - Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com

Approach-Avoidance Conflict (SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY) - iResearchNet

Approach-Approach vs Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict - Practical Psychology

Approach Avoidance Conflict - Should I do it or not?

Addressing Conflict Avoidance in the Workplace | Clear Review.


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