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Jeffrey A. Gray on Behavior - Dictionary of Arguments

Corr I 349
Behavior/Gray: Gray used the language of cybernetics (cf. Wiener 1948)(1) – the science of communication and control, comprising end-goals and feedback processes containing control of values within the system that guide the organism towards its final goal – in the form of a cns-CNS (conceptual nervous system/Central Nervous System >Terminology/Gray) bridge, to show how the flow of information and control of outputs is achieved (see also, Gray 2004)(2). >Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory/Gray, >Conceptual Nervous System/Gray.
Gray faced two major problems: first, how to identify brain systems responsible for behaviour; and, secondly, how to characterize these systems once identified. The individual differences perspective is one major way of identifying major sources of variation in behaviour; by inference, there must be causal systems (i.e., sources) giving rise to observed variations in behaviour. Hans Eysenck’s (1947(3), 1957(4), 1967(5)) approach was to use multivariate statistical analysis to identify these major sources of variation in the form of personality dimensions.
GrayVsEysenck: Gray accepted that this ‘top-down’ approach can identify the minimum number of sources of variation (i.e., the ‚extraction ‘extraction problem’ in factor analysis), but he argued that such statistical approaches can never resolve the correct orientation of these observed dimensions (i.e., the ‘rotation problem’ in factor analysis).
Solution/Gray: „bottom-up“ approach: rested on other forms of evidence, including the effects of brain lesions, experimental brain research (e.g., intracranial self-stimulation studies), and, of most importance, the effects on behaviour of classes of drugs known to be effective in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Transforming base pharmacological findings into a valuable neuropsychological theory. This was a subtle and clever way to expose the nature of fundamental emotion and motivation systems, especially those implicated in major forms of psychopathology. >Method/Gray, >Fear/Gray.



1. Wiener, N. 1948. Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and machine. Cambridge: MIT Press
2. Gray, J. A. 2004. Consciousness: creeping up on the Hard Problem. Oxford University Press
3. Eysenck, H. J. 1947. Dimensions of personality. London: K. Paul/Trench Trubner
4. Eysenck, H. J. 1957. The dynamics of anxiety and hysteria. New York: Preger
5. Eysenck, H. J. 1967. The biological basis of personality. Springfield, IL: Thomas


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


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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.
Gray, Jeffrey A.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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