Approach and Avoidance Motivation: Visual Asymmetries and Replicability

Author: Nathan Leggett

Leggett, Nathan, 2016 Approach and Avoidance Motivation: Visual Asymmetries and Replicability, Flinders University, School of Psychology

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Two possible responses to environmental stimuli exist, approach or avoidance. Approach motivation is defined as goal attainment, whereas avoidance motivation is defined as withdrawal from threat. The decision to approach or avoid a stimulus is the cornerstone for which all proceeding behaviour is based on. The current thesis sought to expand on previous motivational research, which has indicated that line bisection can effectively measure approach and avoidance motivational lateralisation. No evidence was found to suggest that either the landmark or greyscales tasks can reliably measure motivational lateralisation, suggesting that more research is needed to fully understand what conditions are required for visuospatial tasks to reliably reflect motivational processes. The effect of approach and avoidance motivation was also explored within the upper and lower visual fields, as well as at near and far distances. No evidence was found to suggest that either elevational position or proximal position affect motivational judgements.

A lack of significant results made it difficult to significantly expand existing theoretical models of approach and avoidance lateralisation; however, several key points relating to psychological science as a whole were explored. The current thesis provided evidence that suggests publication biases are inflating the number of significant findings that are reported in published works and that this problem is worse now than it was fifty years ago. Despite this, the psychological community has recently begun to openly discuss changes that might be implemented to reduce publication biases and increase the validity and replicability of published work. The current thesis explored one promising solution to publication biases – registered reports. Registered reports were found to have many advantages over more traditional publication procedures, such that the soundness of methodological and analytical procedures could be insured before data collection even began.

Keywords: laterality,line bisection,replicability,approach,avoidance,motivation

Subject: Psychology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2016
School: School of Psychology
Supervisor: Michael Nicholls