Motivation and Personality: A Neuropsychological Perspective



Personality is strongly influenced by motivation systems that organise responses to rewards and punishments and that drive approach and avoidance behavior. Neuropsychological research has identified: (a) two avoidance systems, one related to pure active avoidance and escape, and one to passive avoidance and behavioral inhibition produced by goal-conflict; and (b) two approach systems, one related to the actions of reward seeking and one to experience and behavior related to pleasure on receiving reward. These systems mediate fluid moment-by-moment reactions to changing stimuli, with relatively stable person-specific sensitivities to these stimuli manifested in personality traits. We review what is known about these motivational traits, integrating the theory-driven approach based on animal learning paradigms with the empirical tradition of the Big Five personality model.