The new reinforcement sensitivity theory: Implications for personality measurement

Smillie, Luke D.; Pickering, Alan and Jackson, Chris J.. 2006. The new reinforcement sensitivity theory: Implications for personality measurement. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(4), pp. 320-335. ISSN 10888683 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this article, we review recent modifications to Jeffrey Gray's (1973, 1991) reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST), and attempt to draw implications for psychometric measurement of personality traits. First, we consider Gray and McNaughton's (2000) functional revisions to the biobehavioral systems of RST. Second, we evaluate recent clarifications relating to interdependent effects that these systems may have on behavior, in addition to or in place of separable effects (e.g., Corr, 2001; Pickering, 1997). Finally, we consider ambiguities regarding the exact trait dimension to which Gray's “reward system” corresponds. From this review, we suggest that future work is needed to distinguish psychometric measures of (a) fear from anxiety and (b) reward-reactivity from trait impulsivity. We also suggest, on the basis of interdependent system views of RST and associated exploration using formal models, that traits that are based upon RST are likely to have substantial intercorrelations. Finally, we advise that more substantive work is required to define relevant constructs and behaviors in RST before we can be confident in our psychometric measures of them.

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1 November 2006Published

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10 Dec 2008 10:36

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04 Jul 2017 10:31

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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