Personality and reinforcement: An exploration using a maze-learning task

Pickering, Alan; Díaz, Amelia and Gray, Jeffrey A. 1995. Personality and reinforcement: An exploration using a maze-learning task. Personality and Individual Differences, 18(4), pp. 541-558. ISSN 0191-8869 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

A computerized maze learning task was investigated under control, reward and punishment, provided by differing financial reinforcement contingencies. The relationships between speed crossing the maze and anxiety and impulsivity personality traits were explored. Anxiety is hypothesized to reflect a behavioural inhibition system active in punishing environments; and impulsivity, to reflect an activation system active in rewarding environments. Of the measures of impulsivity taken, only one—venturesomeness from the I7—was associated significantly with increased maze crossing speed; this was found particularly in the reward condition and in males. Several anxiety variables were associated with (near-)significant decreases in maze crossing speed in the punishment condition, and in the reward condition during continued testing after maze learning. The coexistence of anxiety and impulsivity correlations, particularly in reward, confirmed predictions that nominal ‘punishment’ and ‘reward’ conditions may activate both systems simultaneously. In punishment, prior to successful maze learning, significant anxiety correlations were limited to males, but after maze learning they were confined to females. Neuroticism and extraversion correlated with performance equally well in males; in females the correlation with extraversion was weak. These sex effects are ascribed to differing sources of motivation and to differing properties of EPQ-extraversion for males and females.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



April 1995Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2015 13:53

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 10:31

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)