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Jeffrey A. Gray on Depression - Dictionary of Arguments

Corr II 123
Depression/Gray/McNaughton/Corr: Depression seems to stand apart from fear, anxiety, punishment and conditioning; but, like ‘other dysthymic neuroses (i.e., phobias, anxiety state and obsessive compulsive neurosis’; p. 256), it is related to introversion and high neuroticism. [Gray’s] immediate problem was reactive depression resulting from loss of reward (e.g., death of a spouse), not punishment. In his solution, we can see the power of a properly formulated learning theory perspective of the kind urged by Eysenck (1963, p. 1)(1). Gray’s primary hypothesis concerned punishment. So, he obviously needed to equate loss of reward with punishment. Serendipitously, he had previously proposed the ‘fear = frustration hypothesis’ to explain emotional reactions (Gray, 1967)(2). Briefly, when an animal fails to receive an expected reward its immediate reactions (increased arousal, escape, attack if a conspecific is present) are ‘functionally and physiologically very similar, and perhaps identical’ (1970a, p. 256)(3) to when it receives a shock (or other punisher). Gray’s conclusion is that introverts, who are more sensitive to fear, will also be more sensitive to frustration in the extreme form generated by severe loss, and so are more likely to become depressed. >Personality/Traits.


1. Eysenck, H. J. (1963). Editorial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1, 1–2.
2. Gray, J. A. (1967). Disappointment and drugs in the rat. Advancement of Science, 23, 595–605.
3. Gray, J. A. (1970a). The psychophysiological basis of introversion–extraversion. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 8, 249–266.


McNaughton, Neil and Corr, John Philip: “Sensitivity to Punishment and Reward Revisiting Gray (1970)”, In: Philip J. Corr (Ed.) 2018. Personality and Individual Differences. Revisiting the classical studies. Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne: Sage, pp. 115-136.


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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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