Book Definition: A conflict in which one must choose between options that have both many attractive and many negative aspects.

History (Optional)

In real life, the individual frequently is faced with having to choose between two (or more) goals, each of which has both attracting and repelling aspects. Since the tendency is to either approach or avoid each of the goals, this pattern is called double approach-avoidance. Choosing a house in the country means fresh air, room to live, peace and quiet. It also means many hours of commuting to work in heavy traffic and long distances from city amenities and cultural events. Choosing to live in the city will likewise present both the problems and the advantages of city life. This is a common example of the double approach-avoidance situation.

In Your Own Words

  • Weighing the pros and cons of two or more possible options.
  • Having to make a decision between two outcomes which both have good and bad outcomes.


  • Choosing a college:
    • UMD: close to home, affordable, know a lot of people; really big, need good grades
    • Harvard: Amazing reputation, you get a scholarship, gorgeous campus; far away, need straight A's and lots of extracurricular activities, won't have a life outside of homework
  • Deciding between going to your mom's or dad's side of the family for Christmas:
    • -Your dad's side is all the way in Utah but they give you the best presents,
    • -Your mom's side is only a half hour away but they don't give good presents.
  • Clothes shopping:
    • If you buy the cheap shirt that's kind of cute you'll save money.
    • If you buy the really expensive one that is really cute, you'll have no money.
  • When planning a trip abroad, you might want to plan an itinerary. This requires you to make a choice about what sights you want to see and when you want to see them, while also taking into account other positive and negative factors concerning the attraction, such as distance, admission cost, popularity, hours of operation, etc.
  • Deciding whether to go to work or go out with friends:
    • -Going to work gives you the chance to make money, but not have an enjoyable time.
    • -Going out with friends allows you to have a good time, but you wont have any money in your wallet.
  • Watching TV:
    • getting to watch the show when it first airs
    • not getting enough sleep for school the next day