Types of Motivation Conflicts + Solutions. [Approach-Approach] [Avoidance-Avoidance] [Approach-Avoidance]

A few decades ago, Kurt Lewin proposed his famous typology of conflicts. He stated that a person experiences a conflict when two main tendencies of their behavior collide. Generally, there are three types of conflicts: approach-approach, avoidance-avoidance, and approach-avoidance.

Let’s dive deeper into Lewin’s motivational conflict theory below. 

What Is Approach-Approach Conflict? + Examples of Conflicting Motivations

Motivation Conflicts, Approach-Approach, Avoidance-Avoidance ,Approach-Avoidance

Approach-approach conflict arises when there are simultaneously two attractive opportunities, but the individual must make a choice between them. Since there are a few equally attractive and mutually exclusive options, a person is torn between two desired alternatives. 

For example, spending money on an expensive prestigious purchase or an exciting trip. A man may think about whether to go on a date with this attractive girl or with another. People often experience an approach-approach conflict when they choose what movie to watch or what car to buy. 

What Is Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict? + Examples

The avoidance-avoidance conflict occurs when a person is confronted with the need to choose between two unwanted things. Actually, this is a case of choosing the lesser of two evils.

As soon as a person takes a step towards one of the unpleasant alternatives, its repulsive power decreases. At the same time, this brings them closer to another trouble, its repulsive force increases, and the person returns to the starting position. Usually, the conflict is resolved by the intervention of a third force.

In the case of avoidance-avoidance conflict,  a person is torn by undesirable, unpleasant alternatives. For instance, whether to pay the bill immediately and have no money, or to pay more, but later. Another example is one needs to decide what is worse – to get a divorce or continue to live in an unfavorable situation. Also, teenagers often wonder whether they should tell their parents everything and risk earning punishment, or should they stay silent and live with guilt?

What Is Approach-Avoidance Conflict + Examples of Conflicting Motivations

Approach-avoidance conflict occurs when one needs to make a decision about a situation that has both positive and negative consequences. It may arise when there is a pleasant thing that attracts a person, but they are also forced to do an unpleasant job to get it. 

An example of this might be taking a job that possesses both financial gain and prestige, but also leads to stress and exhaustion. This involves the individual assessing for themselves whether the negative aspects outweigh the positives. People thinking of starting a business also often face an approach-avoidance conflict.

How to Resolve Conflicts? Lewin's Motivational Conflict Theory

Firstly, it is important to establish the fact of such a conflict and determine its type as well as the cause (main contradiction). Next, you need either to apply an appropriate resolution method or to ask for psychological assistance if you don’t know how to do this. 

Successful resolution of an intrapersonal conflict restores the harmony of your inner world, establishes the unity of consciousness, and helps to achieve a better life quality.  With a constructive resolution, you will have peace of mind, a deeper understanding of life, and maybe new values.

Depending on individual characteristics, people treat contradictions in different ways, choosing their own strategies for getting out of conflict situations. These individual characteristics include ideological attitudes, beliefs, temperament, gender, age, etc. It is important that a person develops their own style of resolving internal contradictions and a constructive attitude towards them.

Understanding the Dynamics of Conflicting Motivations and Their Impact on Behavior

In both personal and professional settings, understanding the dynamics between conflicting motivations and motivational conflict can be pivotal in navigating challenges effectively. This exploration delves into how motivation and conflict interact and influence decision-making processes, ultimately shaping our actions and outcomes.

The Concept of Conflicting Motivations

Conflicting motivations occur when an individual is simultaneously pulled in different directions by two or more competing desires or goals. This internal tug-of-war can create significant stress and uncertainty, impacting a person’s ability to make clear, effective decisions. For example, a person might feel torn between a career that offers financial stability and pursuing a passion that might not be as lucrative but promises more personal fulfillment.

How Motivational Conflict Influences Behavior

Motivational conflict arises when these opposing forces clash, leading to a scenario where choosing one option inevitably leads to the sacrifice of another. This type of conflict is a critical area of study in psychology because it directly affects an individual’s emotional well-being and productivity. Researchers have found that understanding the nature of these conflicts can help in developing strategies to resolve them or mitigate their impact.

The Interplay Between Motivation and Conflict

The relationship between motivation and conflict is complex and can drive an individual toward growth and change or lead to stagnation and frustration. Motivation propels people toward their goals, while conflict forces them to confront the challenges those goals might present. Managing this interplay effectively requires a deep understanding of one’s values and priorities, as well as the ability to foresee potential conflicts and prepare for them.

Strategies to Manage Conflicting Motivations

To manage conflicting motivations effectively, individuals and organizations can employ several strategies:

  1. Prioritization: Clearly define what is most important and make decisions that align with those priorities.
  2. Compromise: Find middle ground that can partially satisfy both sets of motivations.
  3. Segmentation: Allocate specific times to focus on different motivations to prevent overlap and reduce conflict.
  4. Counseling and Coaching: Professional help can provide new insights and frameworks for understanding and managing motivational conflicts.

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