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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Approach and avoidance in moral psychology: Evidence for three distinct motivational levels

James F.M. Cornwell and E. Tory Higgins
Personality and Individual Differences
Volume 86, November 2015, Pages 139–149


During the past two decades, the science of motivation has made major advances by going beyond just the traditional division of motivation into approaching pleasure and avoiding pain. Recently, motivation has been applied to the study of human morality, distinguishing between prescriptive (approach) morality on the one hand, and proscriptive (avoidance) morality on the other, representing a significant advance in the field. There has been some tendency, however, to subsume all moral motives under those corresponding to approach and avoidance within morality, as if one could proceed with a “one size fits all” perspective. In this paper, we argue for the unique importance of each of three different moral motive distinctions, and provide empirical evidence to support their distinctiveness. The usefulness of making these distinctions for the case of moral and ethical motivation is discussed.


• We investigate the relations among three motivational constructs.
• We find that the three constructs are statistically independent.
• We find independent relations between the constructs and moral emotions.
• We find independent relations between the constructs and personal values.

The entire article is here.

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