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Avoidance-avoidance conflict (Hergenhahn)

Tension resulting from the simultaneous repulsion by two goals.
The sheets on your bed are dirty and they smell. You feel anxious over the decision between washing your bed clothes or facing another night sleeping in a dirty, smelly bed.
Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) was the first psychologist to experimentally investigate conflict. He concentrated on three types: approach-approach, avoidance-avoidance, and approach-avoidance. In an avoidance-avoidance conflict, a person experiences tension as the result of being simultaneously repulsed by two unattractive goals. He or she must choose between "the lesser of two evils."
Further Reading:

Concise Medical Dictionary (1998). Conflict [On-line] Available:

Lewin, K. (1935). A dynamic theory of personality. New York: McGraw-Hill.

McGraw-Hill Companies. (2001). Conflict [On-line] Available:

Related Terms:
Approach-approach conflict (Hergenhahn)

Approach-avoidance conflict (Hergenhahn)

Lewin, Kurt (1890 - 1947)

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 1-item self-test over this concept.

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