What is learned in approach-avoidance tasks? On the scope and generalizability of approach-avoidance effects

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Previous research has shown that approaching a stimulus makes it more positive, while avoiding a stimulus makes it more negative. The present research demonstrates that approach-avoidance behaviors have the potential to charge stimulus attributes such as color with evaluative meaning. This evaluation carries over to other stimuli with that feature. We address the latter point by assessing the influence of colors that were approached or avoided on the perceived attractiveness of persons wearing those colors. We show that wearing a certain color makes people appear more attractive when this color is associated with approach rather than avoidance. In line with a self-perception account of these effects, we obtained approach-avoidance effects on stimulus attributes only when participants carried out approach-avoidance behaviors toward these colors or imagined doing so. This set of experiments adds to the evaluative learning literature by demonstrating approach-avoidance effects on stimulus attributes and that these effects carry over to new classes of stimuli and new tasks. Moreover, we systematically investigated boundary conditions for these effects. Finally, with this research we introduce an ontogenetic perspective to research into colors and their influence on psychological functioning.

ZeitschriftJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Seiten (von - bis)1460-1476
Anzahl der Seiten17
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.08.2020
Extern publiziertJa

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