Personality and social attitudes: Evidence for positive-approach motivation

P.J. Corr, Shaun Hargreaves Heap, Alexandra Russell, C. Seger, K. Tsutsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Extensive research has linked general personality factors to social attitudes, but there has been comparatively little work on the roles played by specific approach-avoidance personality factors, especially positive-approach ones. Here we relate such factors to the two main clusters of social attitudes (Right-Wing Authoritarianism, RWA; and Social Dominance Orientation, SDO), and related cognitive constructs (Need for Cognition and Need for Closure). Results revealed: (a) positive-approach motivation is consistently related to both RWA and SDO, with little contribution from negative-avoidance motivation; and (b) negative-avoidance motivation played a part in Need for Cognition (negatively related) and Need for Closure (positively related). These data challenge previous theorizing concerning the role of fear/anxiety in social attitude formation and prejudice more generally. We conclude that, to a larger extent than previously thought, approach-related personality factors underpin the positive reinforcement of social attitudes and prejudice. Our results may help to account for the failure of programmes designed to reduce prejudice which have been based on the reduction of negative emotion and motivation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-851
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • Social attitudes
  • Prejudice
  • Personality
  • FFM
  • BAS
  • BIS
  • RWA
  • SDO
  • Need for Cognition
  • Need for Closure

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