Loss of control stimulates approach motivation

Katharine H. Greenaway, Katherine R. Storrs, Michael C. Philipp, Winnifred R. Louis, Matthew J. Hornsey, Kathleen D. Vohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The present research introduces a framework for understanding motivational reactions to control deprivation. Two experiments demonstrated that loss of control can stimulate approach motivation. Loss of control led to greater approach motivation in terms of enhanced motivation to achieve goals (Experiment 1) and greater self-reported high approach affect (Experiments 1 & 2). Experiment 2 additionally revealed that the effect of control deprivation on approach motivation was eliminated when participants misattributed their arousal to an external source. Overall, the findings demonstrate that loss of control can stimulate approach motivation as part of an adaptive motivational system aimed at coping with perceived lack of control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-241
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Approach motivation
  • Arousal
  • Control deprivation
  • Goal pursuit


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