Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 356
Conditioning/Gray/GrayVsEysenck: In brief, Gray (1970(1), 1972b(2), 1981(3)) proposed a modification of Eysenck’s 1957(4) theory thus:
(a) to the position of Extraversion (E) and Neuroticism (N) in multivariate statistical factor space; and
(b) to their neuropsychological bases. According to Gray, E and N should be rotated, approximately, 30° to form the more causally efficient axes of ‘punishment sensitivity’, reflecting Anxiety (Anx), and ‘reward sensitivity’, reflecting Impulsivity (Imp).
Gray’s modification stated that highly impulsive individuals (Imp+) are most sensitive to signals of reward, relative to their low impulsive (Imp−) counterparts; highly anxious individuals (Anx+) are most sensitive to signals of punishment, relative to low anxiety (Anx−) counterparts. >Factor Analysis, >Rotated Factors.
Corr I 357
GrayVsEysenck: According to this new view, Eysenck’s E and N dimensions (Eysenck 1957)(4) are secondary (conflated) factors of these more fundamental traits/processes. This is now called the ‘separable subsystems hypothesis’ (Corr 2001(5), 2002a(6); see Corr and McNaughton 2008(7)).
Solution/Gray: Gray’s (1970)(1) theory deftly side-stepped the problems accompanying Eysenck’s, and it also explained why introverts were, generally, more cortically aroused: they are more punishment sensitive (punishment is more arousing than reward); and, as extraverts are more sensitive to reward, not punishment, they are, accordingly, less aroused. Cf. >Conditioning/Eysenck, >Conditioning/Psychological Theories.


1. Gray, J. A. 1970. The psychophysiological basis of Introversion–Extraversion, Behaviour Research and Therapy 8: 249–66
2. Gray, J. A., 1972b. The psychophysiological nature of Introversion-Extraversion: a modification of Eysenck’s theory, in V. D. Nebylitsyn and J. A. Gray (eds.), The biological bases of individual behaviour, pp. 182–205. New York: Academic Press
3. Gray, J. A. 1981. A critique of Eysenck’s theory of personality, in H. J. Eysenck (ed.), A model for personality, pp. 246–76. Berlin: Springer
4. Eysenck, H. J. 1957. The dynamics of anxiety and hysteria. New York: Preger
5. Corr, P. J. 2001. Testing problems in J. A. Gray’s personality theory: a commentary on Matthews and Gilliland (1999), Personal Individual Differences 30: 333–52
6. Corr, P. J. 2002a. J. A. Gray’s reinforcement sensitivity theory: tests of the joint subsystem hypothesis of anxiety and impulsivity, Personality and Individual Differences 33: 511–32
7. Corr, P. J. and McNaughton, N. 2008. Reinforcement sensitivity theory and personality, in P. J. Corr (ed). The reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality, pp. 155–87. 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.
Gray, Jeffrey A.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009


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