SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

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.