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Appetitive Motivational Systems

Nancy A. Fry

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Appetitive motivational systems promote approach behaviors that seek a reward or positive outcome, whereas aversive motivational systems promote avoidant behaviors that seek to avoid punishment or a negative outcome. Supported by neurophysiological evidence demonstrating activity in different parts of the brain and nervous system in response to reward-based stimuli versus punishment-based stimuli, the appetitive and aversive systems are thought to be distinct and relatively independent. This suggests that the two systems can be active at the same time and interact with each other. Every individual is believed to have a particular level of sensitivity for rewards-based stimuli and another level of sensitivity for punishment-based stimuli. Sensitivity for one system is not thought to be directly related to or predictive of an individual's sensitivity for the other system. This can result in a multitude of diverse appetitive/aversive combinations among people and suggests an intriguing and important individual difference. Within the domain of motivation, there are various terminologies for the appetitive/aversive distinction including approach/avoidance, positive/negative, promotion/prevention , and discrepancy-reducing/discrepancy-enlarging . Some motivational theories are explicit in recognizing this reward-seeking versus punishment-avoidant dimension, whereas others are more implicit. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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