Effects of approach and avoid mindsets on performance, self-regulatory cognition, and affect in a multi-task environment

Paul Karoly, Craig Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Despite numerous studies of approach- and avoidant mindsets, relatively little research has addressed the impact of such motivational orientations on performance and emotion in a real-time, multi-task setting. A laboratory simulation is reported that examines the influence of an induced approach-centered, an avoidance-centered, and a "neutral" motivational mindset upon multiple aspects of task performance, self-regulatory cognition, and affect. Undergraduate females randomly assigned to one of three mindset conditions performed a simulated automobile drive across one practice and two experimental trials. Dependent measures included divided attention, behavioral indicators of driving "cautiousness" in relatively safe straight roadway sections as well as during more risk-filled driving, multiple aspects of self-regulatory thinking (including self-monitoring, intended effort, and self-administered consequences), and positive and negative affect. Results revealed that the avoidant mindset produced poorer executive attention (i.e., fewer correctly detected divided attention events), more "cautious" driving behavior and reduced performance variability (i.e., greater control) when driving on presumably safe, straight roadway sections, lower self-reports of intended effort, and greater negative affect relative to the approach mindset. Results are intepreted within a self-regulation-centered motivational framework. Implications of the multi-task simulation for the study of normal and disordered adjustment are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-376
Number of pages22
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Affect
  • Approach and avoid mindsets
  • Multi-task simulation
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-regulatory ergonomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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