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Jeffrey A. Gray on Terminology - Dictionary of Arguments

Corr I 326
Terminology/Gray: Jeffrey Gray focused more heavily on neurobiology than on personality, with an emphasis on the development of a
Def ‘conceptual nervous system’ describing functional systems that could be mapped onto brain systems. The main components of this conceptual nervous system are the
Def BAS: behavioural approach system, which responds to cues for reward, and the
Def FFFS: fight-flight-freeze system (FFFS) and the
Def BIS: behavioural inhibition system (BIS), which respond to two distinct classes of threatening stimuli (Gray and McNaughton 2000(1); Pickering and Gray 1999)(2).
Immediately threatening, punishing or frustrating stimuli activate the FFFS, which produces active avoidance (panic and flight) or attempted elimination (anger and attack).
RST: Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory.


1. Gray, J. A. and McNaughton, N. 2000. The neuropsychology of anxiety: an enquiry into the functions of the septo-hippocampal system, 2nd edn. New York: Oxford University Press
2. Pickering, A. D. and Gray, J. A. 1999. The neuroscience of personality, in L. A. Pervin and O. P. John (eds.), Handbook of personality: theory and research, 2nd edn, pp. 277–99. New York: Guilford Press


Colin G. DeYoung and Jeremy R. Gray, „ Personality neuroscience: explaining individual differences in affect, behaviour and cognition“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Corr I 359
Terminology/Gray: Cf. Gray (1982)(1):
BIS: (1) The behavioural inhibition system (BIS) was postulated to be sensitive to conditioned aversive stimuli, omission/termination of expected reward, and conditioned frustration (i.e., conditioning to stimuli that signalled expected reward, non-reward), as well as an assortment of other inputs, including extreme novelty, high intensity stimuli and innate fear stimuli (e.g., snakes, blood). The BIS was related to the personality factor of Anxiety (Anx). The neural instantiation of the BIS was postulated to be in the septo-hippocampal system of the brain.
FFS: The fight-flight system (FFS) was postulated to be sensitive to unconditioned aversive stimuli (i.e., innately painful stimuli), mediating the emotions of rage and panic. This system was related to the state of negative affect (NA) (associated with pain) and speculatively associated by Gray with Eysenck’s personality factor of Psychoticism (P) (Eysenck and Eysenck 1976)(2). The neural instantiation of the FFS was postulated to be in the periaqueductal grey and (various nuclei of) the hypothalamus.
BAS: The behavioural approach system (BAS) was postulated to be sensitive to conditioned appetitive stimuli, forming a positive feedback loop, activated by the presentation of stimuli associated with reward and the termination/omission of signals of punishment. This system was related to state positive affect (PA) and the personality dimension of Impulsivity (Imp). The neural instantiation of the BAS was postulated to be in the mesolimbic dopamine circuit. Cf. >Terminology/Corr: „Post-2000 RST“.

1. Gray, J. A. 1982. The neuropsychology of anxiety: an enquiry into the functions of the septo-hippocampal system. Oxford University Press
2. Eysenck, H. J. and Eysenck, S. G. B. 1976. Psychoticism as a dimension of personality. London: Hodder and Stoughton

Philip J. Corr, „ The Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory of Personality“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press

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Corr II 124
Hope-Relief Hypothesis/Gray/McNaughton/Corr: ‘hope = relief hypothesis’ (Gray, 1971(1), 1972(2)), [is] derived from his concept of relieving nonpunishment (a mirror image of frustrative nonreward). Extraverting drugs do not impair avoidance unless some form of conflict is present (i.e., avoidance is passive, not active – a subtle but fundamental distinction). Provided we are dealing with learning, we can see an active avoidance response as one rewarded by stimuli that signal safety and generate the positive emotion of relief; and so we can explain the lack of effect of anti-punishment drugs.

1. Gray, J. A. (1971). The psychology of fear and stress. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
2. Gray, J. A. (1972). Learning theory, the conceptual nervous system and personality. In V. D. Nebylitsyn & J. A. Gray (Eds.), The biological bases of individual behaviour. London, New York: Academic Press.

McNaughton, Neil and Corr, John Philip: “Sensitivity to Punishment and Reward Revisiting Gray (1970)”, In: Philip J. Corr (Ed.) 2018. Personality and Individual Differences. Revisiting the classical studies. Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne: Sage, pp. 115-136.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gray, Jeffrey A.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-05-13
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