Approach/Avoidance Orientations Affect Self-construal and Identification with In-group

Ravit Nussinson, Michael Häfner, Beate Seibt, Fritz Strack, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Approach and avoidance are two basic motivational orientations. Their activation influences cognitive and perceptive processes: Previous work suggests that an approach orientation instigates a focus on larger units as compared to avoidance. Study 1 confirms this assumption using a paradigm that more directly taps a person's tendency to represent objects as belonging to small or large units than prior studies. It was further predicted that the self should also be represented as belonging to larger units, and hence be more interdependent under approach than under avoidance. Study 2 supports this prediction. As a consequence of this focus on belonging to larger units, it was finally predicted that approach results in a stronger identification with one's in-group than avoidance. Studies 3 and 4 support that prediction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was carried out at the Department of Psychology, The Open University of Israel; at the Department of Psychology, New York University; and at the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University. We gratefully acknowledge support for this research by The Open University of Israel’s Research Fund awarded to the first author and a postdoc grant from the German Science Foundation (DFG SE 1121/3–1) to the third author.


  • Approach/avoidance
  • Global/local
  • Identification
  • Processing style
  • Self-construal


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