Approach and avoidance profiles distinguish dimensions of anxiety and depression

Jeffrey M. Spielberg, Wendy Heller, Rebecca Levin Silton, Jennifer L. Stewart, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although a substantial body of research has examined the relationship between motivational systems and mood and anxiety disorders, there is disagreement among theorists regarding the nature of these relationships. Discrepancies in the literature may be explained by several factors. Studies of motivational models rarely examine both mood and anxiety disorders simultaneously, making comparisons among them difficult. Furthermore, dimensions of anxiety often are not distinguished, obscuring potential relationships. Finally, although research in this area is beginning to conceptualize individual differences in motivational systems as longstanding temperament phenomena, this notion has not been widely incorporated into motivational models. The present study examined relationships between temperamental differences in approach and avoidance motivational systems and dimensions of anxiety and depression. Results revealed distinct relationships between motivational temperaments and each psychopathology dimension. Present findings implicate individual differences in temperamental motivation as a potential factor in the development and/or maintenance of mood and anxiety disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-371
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011


  • Anxiety
  • Approach
  • Avoidance
  • Depression
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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