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On the differentiation of N2 components in an appetitive choice task: Evidence for the revised Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory


  • This research was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to the last author (Ste 405/8-3). Portions of this work were presented at the 13th biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences, Giessen, 2007. The authors are very grateful to Ulrich Schlattmann and Marie Claßen for their assistance during data collection.

Address reprint requests to: Address reprint requests to: Dr. Anja Leue, Philipps-Universitaet Marburg, Faculty of Psychology, Gutenbergstrasse 18, 35032 Marburg, Germany. E-mail:


Task- and personality-related modulations of the N2 were probed within the framework of the revised Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST). Using an appetitive choice task, we investigated 58 students with extreme scores on the behavioral inhibition system and behavioral approach system (BIS/BAS) scales. The baseline-to-peak N2 amplitude was sensitive to the strength of decision conflict and demonstrated RST-related personality differences. In addition to the baseline N2 amplitude, temporal PCA results suggested two N2 components accounting for a laterality effect and capturing different N2 patterns for BIS/BAS groups with increasing conflict level. Evidence for RST-related personality differences was obtained for baseline-to-peak N2 and tPCA components in the present task. The results support the RST prediction that BAS sensitivity modulates conflict processing and confirm the cognitive–motivational conflict concept of RST.