Improving the Measurement of the Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory in Alcohol Misuse: Evidence from a New Laboratory Task


Improving the Measurement of the Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory in Alcohol Misuse: Evidence from a New Laboratory Task

Keough, Matthew T. (2012) Improving the Measurement of the Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory in Alcohol Misuse: Evidence from a New Laboratory Task. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

[img]PDF - Accepted Version


Gray’s revised Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) posits that the behavioural inhibition system (BIS) resolves motivational conflict by allocating resources for approach (behavioural activation system [BAS]) or avoidance (Fight/Flight/Freeze System [FFFS]). Persons with a strong BIS over-attend to threat, leading to elevated anxiety and behavioural ambivalence. The role of elevated BIS in alcohol use is complex, as anxiety may promote self-medication drinking, while attention to threat may be a protective factor. Theory and recent data suggests that a concurrent strong BAS makes the anxiolytic effects of alcohol more salient, biasing BIS conflict towards drinking. Existing laboratory tasks do not measure BIS as a conflict system and therefore, examinations of the complex interplay between the BIS and BAS for understanding alcohol use are limited. This study tested a new laboratory task [Motivational Flanker Task (MFT)] that better reflects the revised BIS and FFFS and used this new measure to test BAS as a moderator of the BIS-alcohol misuse relation. Undergraduates (N=150) completed self-reports of BAS/BIS/FFFS, and alcohol misuse, and completed the MFT and the Point Scoring Reaction Time Task (PSRTT). Results indicated that MFT measurement of BIS motivational conflict was consistent with self-report and PSRTT measures. MFT measurement of BAS (reward responsivity), but not FFFS (punishment sensitivity) was consistent with self-report measures. An elevated BIS was linked to alcohol misuse, but only at high BAS. These results demonstrate that the MFT is a promising measure of the revised BIS. Further, considering the joint effects of BIS and BAS clarified risk for alcohol misuse.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Keough, Matthew T.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:25 April 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):O'Connor, Roisin M.
ID Code:973946
Deposited On:30 Oct 2012 11:24
Last Modified:30 Oct 2012 11:24
Adlaf, E.M., Demers, A., & Gliksman, L. (2004). Canadian Campus Survey. Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Amodio, D.M., Master, S.L., Lee C.M., & Taylor, S.E. (2008). Neurocognitive components of the behavioral inhibition and activation systems: Implications for theories of self-regulation. Psychophysiology, 45, 11-19.

Arguin, M., Lassonde, M., Quattrini, A., Pesce, M. D., Foschi, N., & Papo, I. (2000). Divided visuo-spatial attention systems with total and anterior callosotomy. Neuropsychologia, 38(3), 283-291.

Avila, C. (2001). Distinguishing BIS-mediated and BAS-mediated disinhibition mechanisms: A comparison of disinhibition models of Gray (1981, 1987) and of Patterson and Newman (1993). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 311–324.

Baer, J. S. (2002). Student factors: understanding individual variation in college drinking.Journal of Studies on Alcohol, S14, 40-53.

Barnes, G. M., Welte, J. W., & Dintcheff, B. (1992). Alcohol misuse among college students and other young adults: Findings from a general population study in New York State. International Journal of the Addictions, 27(8), 917-934.

Beck, I., Smits, D.J.M., Claes, L., Vandereycken, W., & Bijttebier, P. (2009). Psychometric evaluation of the behavioral inhibition/behavioral activation system scales and the sensitivity to punishment and sensitivity to reward questionnaire in a sample of eating disordered patients. Personality and Individual Differences, 47, 407-412.

Buckner, J. D., & Heimberg, R. G. (2010). Drinking behaviors in social situations account for alcohol-related problems among socially anxious individuals. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24(4), 640-648.

Cahalan, D., Cisin, I.H, & Crossley, H.M. (1969). American drinking practices: A national study of drinking behavior and attitudes. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies.

Carver, C. S., & White, T. L. (1994). Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: The BIS/BAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 319-333.

Cogswell, A., Alloy, L.B., van Dullmen, M.H.M., & Fresco, D.M. (2006). A psychometric evaluation of behavioral inhibition and approach self-report measures. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 1649–1658.

Colder, C. R. (2001). Life stress, physiological and subjective indices of negative emotionality, and coping reasons for drinking: Is there evidence for a self-medication model of alcohol use? Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 15, 237–245.

Colder, C. R, & O'Connor, R. M. (2002). Attention bias and disinhibited behavior as predictors of alcohol use and enhancement reasons for drinking. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16(4), 325-332.

Colder, C.R., & O’Connor, R.M. (2004). Gray’s Reinforcement Sensitivity Model and Child Psychopathology: Laboratory and Questionnaire Assessment of the BAS and BIS. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32(4), 435-451.

Colder, C. R., Trucco, E. M., Lopez, H. I., Hawk Jr., L. W., Read, J. P., ...Eiden, R. D. (2011). Revised reinforcement sensitivity theory and laboratory assessment of BIS and BAS in children. Journal of Research in Personality, 45, 198-207.

Cooper, M. L. (1994). Motivations for alcohol use among adolescents: Development and validation of a four-factor model. Psychological Assessment, 6(2), 117-128.

Corr, P.J. (2002). J.A. Gray’s reinforcement sensitivity theory: tests of the joint subsystem hypothesis of anxiety and impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 511-532.

Corr, P. J. (2004). Reinforcement sensitivity theory and personality. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 28, 317-332.

Corr, P. J. (Ed.). (2008). The reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

DeYoung, C. (2010). Mapping Personality Traits onto Brain Systems: BIS, BAS, FFFS and Beyond. European Journal of Personality, 24, 404-421.

Grant, V. V., Stewart, S. H., O’Connor, R. M., Blackwell, E., & Conrod, P. J. (2007).

Psychometric evaluation of the five-factor modified drinking motives questionnaire–revised in undergraduates. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 2611–2632.

Gray, J. A. (1970). The psychophysiological basis of introversion-extraversion. Behavior Research and Therapy, 8, 249-266.

Gray, J. A. (1982). The neuropsychology of anxiety: An enquiry into the functions of the septohippocampal system. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gray, J. A. (1987). Perspectives on anxiety and impulsivity: A commentary. Journal of Research in Personality, 21, 493-509.

Gray, J. A., & McNaughton, N. (2000). The neuropsychology of anxiety. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Heym, N., Ferguson, E., & Lawrence, C. (2008). An evaluation of the relationship between Gray’s revised RST and Eysenck’s PEN: Distinguishing BIS and FFS in Carver and White’s BIS/BAS scales. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 709-715.

Hundt, N. E., Kimbrel, N. A., Mitchell, J. T., & Nelson-Gray, R. O. (2008). High BAS, but not low BIS, predicts externalizing symptoms in adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 563-573.

Johnson, S. L., Turnen, R. J., & Iwata, N. (2003). BIS/BAS levels and psychiatric disorder: an epidemiological study. Journal of Psychopathy and Behavioral Assessment, 25, 2–36.

Jorm, A.F., Christensen, H., Henderson, A. S., Jacomb, P. A., Korten, A. E., & Rodgers, B. (1998). Using the BIS/BAS scales to measure behavioural inhibition and behavioural activation: Factor structure, validity and norms in a large community sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 1(1), 49-58.

Keough, M., & O’Connor, R. M. (2011, August). Clarifying the Joint Effects of BIS and BAS as Risk Factors for Negative Reinforcement Drinking Motives and Alcohol Misuse. Poster presentation at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington DC from August 4th -7th

Kimbrel, N. A., Nelson-Gray, R. O., & Mitchell, J. T. (2007). Reinforcement sensitivity and maternal style as predictors of psychopathology. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 1139-1149.

Kline, R. B. (1998). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (1st ed.).New York: Guilford Press.

Kline, R, B. (2009). Becoming a behavioral science researcher: A guide to producing research that matters. New York: Guilford Press.

Martens, M. P., & Martin, J. L. (2010). Athlete-specific drinking motives and competitive seasonal status: Additional examination of the Athlete Drinking Scale. Addiction Research and Theory, 18, 23-32.

McCreary, D. R., & Sadava, S. W. (1998). Stress, drinking, and the adverse consequences of drinking in two samples of young adults. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 12, 247–261.

Muthen, L. K., & Muthen, B. (2002). Mplus: The comprehensive modeling program for applied researchers. Los Angeles, CA: Muthen and Muthen.

New, B., Brysbaert, M., Veronis, J., & Pallier, C. (2007). The use of film subtitles to estimate word frequencies. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 661-667.

Newcomb, M. D., & Harlow, L. L. (1986). Life events and substance use among adolescents: Mediating effects of perceived loss of control and meaninglessness in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 564–577.

O’Connor, R. M., Colder, C. R., & Hawk, L. W. (2004). Confirmatory factor analysis of the Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 985–1002.

O’Connor, R. M., & Colder, C. (2005). Predicting Alcohol Patterns in First-Year College Students Through Motivational Systems and Reasons for Drinking. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 19(1), 10-20.

O’Connor, R.M., Stewert, S.H., & Watt, M.C. (2009). Distinguishing BAS risk for university students’ drinking, smoking, and gambling behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 514-519.

O’Connor, R. M., & Colder, C. (2009). Influence of alcohol use experience and motivational drive on college students’ alcohol-related cognition. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 33(8), 1430-1439.

O’Connor, R. M., Stewart, S. H., & Marlatt, G. A. (2009, November). BIS risk for negative reinforcement alcohol expectancies: Role of anxious mood and impulsivity. Symposium presentation at the 43rd annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY

O’Connor, R. M., & Stewert, S. H. (2010). Substance use disorders. In D. McKay, J. Abramowitz & S. Taylor (Eds.), Cognitive-behavioral therapy for refractory cases: Turning failure into success (211-229). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Ochsner, K.N., Brent Hughes, B., Robertson, E.R., Cooper, J.C., & Gabrieli, J.D.E. (2006). Neural Systems Supporting the Control of Affective and Cognitive Conflicts. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21(9), 1841-1854.

Poythress, N. G., Edens, J. F., Landfield, K., Lilienfeld, S. O., Skeem, J. L., & Douglas, K. S. (2008). A critique of Carver and White’s (1994) behavioral inhibition scale (BIS) for investigating Lykken’s (1995) theory of primary psychopathy. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 269-275.

Read, J.P., Kahler, C.W., Strong, D., & Colder, C.R. (2006). Development and preliminary validation of the Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67, 169-178.

Read, J.P., & O’Connor, R.M. (2006). High- and low-dose expectancies as mediators of personality dimensions and alcohol involvement. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 67, 1-12.

Read, J.P., Dunn, M., Lau, C., & Borsari, B.E. (2009). Projected Alcohol Dose Influences on the Activation of Alcohol Expectancies in College Drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 33, 1269-1277.

Reuter, M. (2008). Neuro-imaging and Genetics. In P.J. Corr (Ed.) The Reinforcement Sensitivity of Personality (pp. 317-343). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Smillie, L.D., Pickering, A.D., & Jackson, C.J. (2006). The New Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory: Implications for Personality Measurement. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(4), 320-335.

Torrubia, R., Ávila, C., Moltó, J., & Caseras, X. (2001). The Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire (SPSRQ) as a measure of Gray's anxiety and impulsivity dimensions. Personality & Individual Differences, 31, 837-862.

De Pascalis, V., Varriale, V., & D’Antuono, L. (2010). Event-related components of the punishment and reward sensitivity. Clinical Neuropsychology, 121, 60-76.

Wacker, J., Chavanon, M-L., Leue, A., & Stemmler, G. (2010). Trait BIS Predicts Alpha Asymmetry and P300 in a Go/No-Go Task. European Journal of Personality, 24, 85-105.

Wardell, J.D., O’Connor, R.M., Read, J.P., & Colder, C.R. (2011). Behavioral Approach System Moderates the Prospective Association Between the Behavioral Inhibition System and Alcohol Outcomes in College Students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 72(6), 1028-1036.

Wilkinson, L., & the Task Force on Statistical Inference. (1999). Statistical methods in psychology journals: Guidelines and explanations. American Psychologist, 54, 594–604.

Windle, M., (1994). Temperamental inhibition and activation: Hormonal and psychosocial correlates and associated psychiatric disorders. Personality and Individual Differences, 17(1), 61-70.
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Document Downloads

More statistics for this item...

Concordia University - Footer