Nikitin Freund

Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Psychologisches Institut » Entwicklungspsychologie: Erwachsenenalter » Prof. Dr. Alexandra M. Freund » Nikitin Freund

Completed research project

Title / Titel Social approach and avoidance motivation: The role of age
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung Social relations are important throughout life and play an important role for successful aging. One important factor that influences success or failure in social relations is the dispositional social approach and avoidance motivation. Social approach motivation is related to desired states activating movement toward the social goal. In contrast, avoidance motivation is related to undesired states activating behavior away from the dreaded social state. Social approach motivation leads to positive social experience and social success, social avoidance motivation is associated with negative social experience and social failure. What factors determine the strength of the effect of social approach and avoidance motivation on social experiences? We propose that chronological age might play an important role in the importance of social motivation. More specifically, we hypothesize that the effect of social approach and avoidance motivation for social experience and behavior declines with increasing age, due to an age-related drop of importance of new social relationships. This drop might be mediated by (1) a limited future-time perspective, and (2) the presence of long-term relationships. Young adults might be particularly motivated to expand their social network in order to gain information and support serving their central developmental goals (e.g., moving out of the parental home, establishing a career, finding a romantic partner). With increasing age, however, the emphasis on expanding one's social network begins to diminish. Because of their more limited future time-perspective, older adults are more likely to focus on familiar social partners than younger adults. A decrease in the importance of new social situations in old age, then, should also lower the impact of social approach and avoidance motivation on the interpretation and experience of such situations as well as the social behavior. In addition, older adults are more likely than young adults to have very long-standing relationships. This also suggests that older adults might not be as interested in establishing new social relationships as younger adults and hence, social approach and avoidance motivation should be less influential in novel social situations for older than for younger adults. These hypotheses will be tested using a multi-methods approach (self-report, behavioral observation, social-cognitive paradigms) in a set of studies combining cross-sectional age-group comparisons and experimental settings.
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Dr. Jana Nikitin (Project Leader)
Prof. Dr. Alexandra Freund (Project Leader)
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung)
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jan 2010 to Mar 2013