The conceptualisation, measurement and scope of reinforcement sensitivity in the context of a neuroscience of personality
Article first published online: 22 JUL 2008
Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Personality
Special Issue: European Personality Reviews 2008
Volume 22, Issue 5, pages 411–425, August 2008
How to Cite
Smillie, L. D. (2008), The conceptualisation, measurement and scope of reinforcement sensitivity in the context of a neuroscience of personality. Eur. J. Pers., 22: 411–425. doi: 10.1002/per.687
- Issue published online: 22 JUL 2008
- Article first published online: 22 JUL 2008
Reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST) is complex, and there are subtle differences between RST and other approach-avoidance process theories of personality. However, most such theories posit a common biobehavioural mechanism underlying personality which we must therefore strive to understand: differential sensitivity to reinforcing stimuli. Reinforcement sensitivity is widely assessed using questionnaires, but should we treat such measures as (a) a proxy for reinforcement sensitivity itself (i.e. the underlying causes of personality) or (b) trait constructs potentially manifesting out of reinforcement sensitivity (i.e. the ‘surface’ of personality)? Might neuroscience paradigms, such as those I have reviewed in my target paper, provide an advantage over questionnaires in allowing us to move closer to (a), thereby improving both the measurement and our understanding of reinforcement sensitivity? Assuming we can achieve this, how useful is reinforcement sensitivity—and biological perspectives more generally—for explaining personality? These are the major questions raised in the discussion of my target paper, and among the most pertinent issues in this field today. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.