Approach and avoidance as organizing structures for motivated distance perception

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Emerging demonstrations of the malleability of distance perception in affective situations require an organizing structure. These effects can be predicted by approach and avoidance orientation. Approach reduces perceptions of distance; avoidance exaggerates perceptions of distance. Moreover, hedonic valence, motivational intensity, and perceiver arousal cannot alone serve as organizing principles. Organizing the literature based on approach and avoidance can reconcile seeming inconsistent effects in the literature, and offers these motives as psychological mechanisms by which affective situations predict perceptions of distance. Moreover, this perspective complements functional models of perception claiming perceptions of distance serve adaptive responding, and in so doing suggests why perceptions of distance respond to affective situations. This review contributes to the building of a broader theory of motivated distance perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-128
Number of pages14
JournalEmotion Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • approach
  • arousal
  • avoidance
  • distance perception
  • motivation
  • valence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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