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Am Psychol. 1997 Dec;52(12):1280-300.

Beyond pleasure and pain.

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Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


People approach pleasure and avoid pain. To discover the true nature of approach-avoidance motivation, psychologists need to move beyond this hedonic principle to the principles that underlie the different ways that it operates. One such principle is regulatory focus, which distinguishes self-regulation with a promotion focus (accomplishments and aspirations) from self-regulation with a prevention focus (safety and responsibilities). This principle is used to reconsider the fundamental nature of approach-avoidance, expectancy-value relations, and emotional and evaluative sensitivities. Both types of regulatory focus are applied to phenomena that have been treated in terms of either promotion (e.g., well-being) or prevention (e.g., cognitive dissonance). Then, regulatory focus is distinguished from regulatory anticipation and regulatory reference, 2 other principles underlying the different ways that people approach pleasure and avoid pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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