Thursday, March 12, 2020

Reactive Approach Motivation RAM a psychological science concept

Reactive Approach Motivation (RAM ; McGregor, 2006) refers to the way people deal with anxiety producing threats by becoming extremely zealous, which reduces the anxiety caused by the threat.

The zealous pursuit focuses on an ideal that offers hope and strength, bolsters values and convictions. People are motivated to become closed minded. They may increase religious fervor or political extremism depending on their value system.

RAM is based on the neuropsychology of anxiety. Anxiety rises in situations of uncertainty. RAM proposes that people deal with anxious uncertainty by ardently pursuing meaningful goals. When anxious, people become more vigilant and prepare for fight or flight responses.


People with travel plans during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic anxiously searched online for information about the virus, government announcements, and travel news. Many zealously warned of the growing extent of the flu. Others tried to encourage people with religious messages. Some sought financial safety by selling their shares in businesses. Others focused on repeating messages about washing hands and avoiding social contact. Even the hand washing was couched in religious language as "Holy Hygiene."

Related concepts /  posts

Terror Management Theory

Meaning Maintenance Model


McGregor, I. (2006). Offensive defensiveness: Toward an integrative neuroscience of compensatory zeal after mortality salience, personal uncertainty, and other poignant self-threats. Psychological Inquiry, 17(4), 299–308.


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