The present research compared three measures of approach–avoidance behaviour with respect to their sensitivity and criterion-validity: moving a manikin on the screen towards and away from stimuli (manikin task), pulling and pushing a joystick (joystick task), and pulling and pushing a joystick causing the visual impression that the stimuli come closer or disappear (feedback-joystick task). When participants responded to stimulus valence, the manikin task was more sensitive to valence than the joystick task (Experiment 1). When participants responded to the grammatical category of valent words, the manikin and the feedback-joystick but not the joystick task were sensitive to valence (Experiment 2). Finally, the manikin task was more sensitive than the feedback-joystick task in assessing approach–avoidance reactions towards spiders, and it was more strongly related to self-reported fear of spiders (Experiment 3). The likelihood of recategorisation of approach–avoidance responses and the means of distance change are discussed as possible explanations for the differences.