Gray’s Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) Flashcards Preview

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What was the main premise of Gray's RST?

That there are separate reward and punishment systems in the brain, which are important in the development of personality (Gray, 1970).


What two main personality dimensions did Gray's RST propose?

- BIS: high end is neurotic introversion, low end is stable extraversion. Anxiety dimension, corresponds to punishment sensitivity.
- BAS: high end is neurotic extraversion, low end is stable introversion. Impulsivity dimension, corresponds to reward sensitivity.
Interaction between the BIS and BAS is the basis of personality.


In what way is Gray's RST a modified version of Eysenck's theory?

- BIS and BAS are E and N rotated 30 degrees.
- According to Gray (1981), E and N are subsystems of the RST.
- Punishment is more arousing than reward (high BIS/low BAS=introversion)  introverts more sensitive to punishment  introverts more aroused
+ Pickering et al. (1999): most data supports the notion that E = impulsivity and N = anxiety because anxiety is unaffected by rewards and impulsivity by punishment.


What kinds of individual differences does Gray's RST take into account?

Emotion, motivation and learning. As well as the obvious impulsivity and anxiety!


Other than Eysenck's PEN, what is Gray's RST based on?

Based on animal learning theory, supported by psychopharmacological and lesion-based animal models. Also as a biopsychological theory of personality, it's linked to brain function.


Outline the two stage process to understand biological basis of personality.

1. Identify fundamental properties of brain-behavioural systems that might be involved in variation observed in human behaviour
2. Relate variations in these systems to existing measures of personality


What was the critical point about the two stage process to understand biological basis of personality and how it underpinned Gray's RST?

The assumption that variation observed in the functioning of these systems comprises personality and that personality is defined by basic brain-behaviour systems.


What is the conceptual nervous system?

A set of hypothetical interacting mental components which are responsible for the behaviour of the organism.


What were Gray's ideas of the processes involved in behaviour the result of?

A conceptual NS which seemed to fit the data. Following Pavlov, Gray investigated the brain directly to find structure and neural variables which operated in the way that confirmed his conceptual NS


Describe the bottom-up approach taken by Gray.

1. Find explanation of personality dimensions via underlying psychological functions
2. These functions are essentially similar in humans and animals
3. Study personality correlates of the functions in humans
4. Identify biological basis of the functions in terms of enduring structures in endocrine system


What is it essential to do in order to transcend the gap between humans and animals?

To map behavioural patterns across species.


What did Gray's original RST (1973; 1982) propose?

Three systems:
1. Behavioural inhibition system (BIS)
2. Behavioural activation system (BAS)
3. Fight-flight system (FFS) related to the BIS.


What is the BIS sensitive to?



What emotions are related to the BIS?

Anxiety and fear.


What key behaviours are related to the BIS?

Avoidance and withdrawal.


What is the BAS sensitive to?

Rewards and incentives.


What emotions are related to the BAS?

Pleasure and positive affect.


What key behaviour is related to the BAS?



What is the FFS sensitive to?



What emotions are related to the FFS?

Rage and panic (unaffected by anxiolytics).


What key behaviours are related to the FFS?

Avoidance and withdrawal.


What cues/stimuli is the BIS sensitive to?

Aversive cues, conditioned punishment stimuli or frustrated non-reward, innate fear and novel stimuli.


What is the output of the BIS?

Suppression of ongoing behaviour, increase attention and (nonspecific) arousal to enhance information processing.


What neural substrate is the BIS related to?

The septo-hippocampal system (serotonin pathway).


What cues/stimuli is the BAS sensitive to?

Conditioned appetitive and rewarding stimuli (and omission of punishment).


What is the output of the BAS?

Initiation of goal-directed behaviour, facilitate movement towards goal/reward.


What neural substrate is the BAS related to?

Mesolimbic dopaminergic projection (VTA  striatum  NAC), linked to dopamine.


What cues/stimuli is the FFS sensitive to?

Threat - unconditioned negative stimuli (e.g. innately painful stimuli).


What is the output of the FFS?

Actively facilitates response to relieve aversive state/escape from aversive stimuli.


What neural substrate is the FFS related to?

The central periacqueductal grey and hypothalamus.