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The Need to Avoid

 

Explanations > Needs > The Need to Avoid

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?

 

 

Need

We need to avoid those things that may harm us.

This includes the avoidance of pain, risk, threat and other discomfort. When faced with the choice between pain and gain, we will prioritize avoidance of pain over achievement of an equivalent gain.

Example

A person who is offered a better job stays where they are in order to avoid the risk of possible failure in the offered job.

A casino overcomes the concern to avoid losses by making a big show of the huge wins that may be gained. 

Related to

 

Part of Related to
Control

Safety

Explain

 

Discussion

The need to avoid is different to other needs which are generally attractive in the way we seek to gain something.

Avoidance is a deep survival need. If we easily put ourselves into danger, then we would not last long. Evolution has hence programmed us to avoid many risks (although it also prods us to take some risks in order to learn and develop).

In the balance between pain and gain, there is a ratio which is needed to make people choose a possible gain over avoiding possible pain. This varies with the person, but typically we need twice as much gain to persuade us to take a risk rather than taking an avoidance strategy. Some people need somewhat more than this.

So what?

Creating perceived threats will often trigger an avoidance strategy, particularly if the threat seems unlikely to be stopped by an attack response. This can be used to stop people from doing things. Using threats to get people to do what you want is not really a good idea as threat often results in fleeing (physically or mentally) in an unexpected and unwanted direction.

As threat and avoidance is such a basic force, these can be used as distractions, moving attention away from unwanted other things.

See also

Attraction vs. Avoidance Preference

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