Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 365
Behavior/Corr: [there is] a more fundamental aspect of the BIS (Behavioural Inhibition System; >Terminology/Corr), namely that it is sensitive to goal conflict (e.g., approach-avoidance; e.g., an animal will approach a threat only if there is some possibility of a rewarding outcome, such as food). However, threats (as opposed to primary punishment itself) are only one source of aversion. Revised RST (>Reinforcement Sensivity Theory/Corr) argues that, in principle, approach-approach and avoidance-avoidance conflicts also involve activation of the same system and have essentially the same effects as the classic approach-avoidance.
The aversive element resides in the possibility of making a mistake, thus we typically spend time weighing up all the possibilities, and searching for potential downsides to each decision. >Anxiety/Corr.
Corr I 366
BAS/Behavioral Approach System: it may be assumed that the BAS is more complex than conventionally thought – and, indeed, may be more complex than either the FFFS or the BIS.6 I (Corr 2008a)(6) developed the concept of sub-goal scaffolding, which reflects the separate, though overlapping, stages of BAS behaviour,
Corr I 367
consisting in a series of appetitively-motivated sub-goals. Sub-goal scaffolding reflects the fact that, in order to move along the temporo-spatial gradient to the final primary biological reinforcer, it is necessary to engage a number of distinct processes. Complex approach behaviour entails a series of behavioural processes, some of which oppose each other. Such behaviour often demands restraint and planning, but, especially at the final point of capture of the biological reinforcer, impulsivity is more appropriate. (…)’Impulsivity’ may not be the most appropriate name for the personality dimension that reflects BAS processes (Franken and Muris 2006(1); Smillie, Jackson and Dalgleish 2006)(2). There is evidence that, at the psychometric level, the BAS is multidimensional. For example, the Carver and White (1994)(3) BIS/BAS scales measure three aspects of BAS: Reward Responsiveness, Drive and Fun-Seeking – these scales have good psychometric properties in both adolescents and adults (e.g., Caci, Deschaux and Baylé 2007(4); Cooper, Gomez and Aucute 2007(5)). >Drives/Corr, >Anxiety/fear/Corr.
I 368
Extraversion/CorrVsEysenck: in the revised RST (>Reinforcement SensivityTheory/Corr) we have to assume that Eysenck’s Extraversion factor reflects the balance of reward and punishment systems (a central assumption in RST) for a viable explanation as to why Extraversion and arousal are so often associated in experimental studies of personality.


1. Franken, I. H. A. and Muris, P. 2006. Gray’s impulsivity dimension: a distinction between Reward Sensitivity versus Rash Impulsiveness, Personality and Individual Differences 40: 1337–47
2. Smillie, L. D., Jackson, C. J. and Dalgleish, L. I. 2006. Conceptual distinctions among Carver and White’s (1994) BAS scales: a reward-reactivity versus trait impulsivity perspective, Personality and Individual Differences 40: 1039–50
3. Carver, C. S. and White, T. L. 1994. Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: the BIS/BAS scales, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67: 319–33
4. Caci, H., Deschaux, O. and Baylé, F. J. 2007. Psychometric properties of the French versions of the BIS/BAS and the SPSRQ, Personality and Individual Differences 42: 987–98
5. Cooper, A., Gomez, R. and Aucute, H. 2007. The Behavioural Inhibition System and Behavioural Approach System (BIS/BAS) scales: measurement and structural invariance across adults and adolescents, Personality and Individual Differences 43: 295–305
6. Corr, P. J. 2008a. Reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST): Introduction, in P. J. Corr (ed). The reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality, pp. 1–43. 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


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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.

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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