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Miller (1944) revisited: Movement times in relation to approach and avoidance conflicts

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
Volume47
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)1192-1197
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Three experiments (total N= 291) sought to provide support for the idea that avoidance conflicts, relative to approach conflicts, are more difficult to motorically resolve. Conflicts were instantiated by asking individuals to approach desirable stimuli and avoid undesirable stimuli under conditions in which there was no objectively-correct direction of movement. To control for baseline movement speeds, non-conflict trials presented desirable (e.g., reward) and undesirable (e.g., threat) stimuli in the absence of any spatial conflict. In addition, movement times were isolated through the use of a joystick movement paradigm in which movement speeds were quantified subsequent to some initial tendency to move in one direction or the other. Consistent with hypotheses, all experiments found that movement times were slowed in the context of avoidance conflicts relative to approach conflicts. Results are discussed in terms of theories of motivation, affective processing, conflict, and anxiety.