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Hierarchy/Evolutionary Psychology: One major alteration in revised RST (>Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory) is the inclusion of a hierarchical arrangement of distributed brain systems that mediate specific defensive behaviours associated with level of threat experienced, ranging from the prefrontal prefrontal cortex, at the highest level, to the periaqueductal grey, at the lowest level. To each structure is assigned a specific class of mental disorder (McNaughton and Corr 2008a)(1).
According to this perspective, separate emotions (e.g., fear, panic, etc.) may be seen as reflecting the evolution of specific neural modules to deal with specific environmental demands (e.g., flee in the face of a predator) and, as these separate systems evolved and started to work together, some form of regulatory process (e.g., when one module is active, others are inactivated) evolved. The resulting hierarchical nature of this defence system reflects the fact that simpler systems must have evolved before more complex ones, which provides a solution to the problem of conflicting action systems: the later systems evolved to have inhibitory control on lower-level systems.
The result of this process of evolution is the existence of hierarchically ordered series of defensive reactions, each appropriate for a given defensive distance (i.e., level of threat perceived). This hierarchical arrangement (…) can be conveniently summarized in terms of a two-dimensional scheme, consisting of ‘defensive distance’ and ‘defensive direction’. >Terminology/Corr.
1. McNaughton, N. & Corr, P. J. 2008a. The neuropsychology of fear and anxiety: a foundation for reinforcement sensitivity theory, in P. J. Corr (ed). The reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality, pp. 44–94. Cambridge University Press
Philip J. Corr, „ The Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory of Personality“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Philip J. Corr
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009