Approaching Success or Avoiding Failure? Approach and Avoidance Motives in the Work Domain


Correspondence to: Russell Eric Johnson, Michigan State University, Management, N438 North Business Complex, East Lansing, MI 48824–1121, USA.



In our set of studies, we extended research on approach and avoidance motivations by investigating (i) motives in a work setting, (ii) interactions among approach and avoidance motives, and (iii) motives at implicit levels. Results of Studies 1 through 3 provided support for the construct validity of our work motives measure by demonstrating that approach and avoidance work motives are markers of more general approach and avoidance temperaments, they are distinct from other individual difference variables commonly studied by organisational psychologists (e.g. conscientiousness, regulatory focus and cognitive ability) and they are stable over time. In Studies 4 through 7, we confirmed our predictions that approach and avoidance motives predict employees' goal orientations, job appraisals and attitudes (e.g. job satisfaction and perceived support) and supervisor-rated job behaviours (e.g. task performance and citizenship behaviour). Importantly, we provide the first empirical evidence that approach and avoidance motives interact to predict task performance and that the motives operate at implicit levels. Copyright © 2012 European Association of Personality Psychology