Life-threatening event reduces subjective well-being through activating avoidance motivation: A longitudinal study

Dina Van Dijk, Tali Seger-Guttmann, Daniel Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drawing on the approach-avoidance theory, we have examined the role of avoidance motivation in explaining the negative effects of a life-threatening event on subjective well-being (SWB). Residents of the south of Israel were surveyed during heavy missile attacks in January 2009 (T1; n = 283), and again after 6 months (T2; n = 212) and 1 year (T3; n = 154). During the missile attacks, we also surveyed a group from the center of the country (T1; n = 102), not exposed to the attacks. The results indicate that avoidance motivation was activated by the life threat and further mediated its detrimental influence on SWB measures (positive/negative affects, anxiety, and subjective health). Moreover, within the southern sample, the drop in avoidance motivation over time mediated the parallel drop in SWB. In contrast to avoidance motivation, approach motivation remained stable over time and was related to positive emotions. The role of avoidance and approach motivations in life-threatening situations is further discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-225
Number of pages10
JournalEmotion
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Aug 2013

Keywords

  • Approach-avoidance motivation
  • Emotion
  • Health
  • Subjective well-being
  • Threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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