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  • Reinforcement sensitivity theory and major motivational

    and the BAS are systematically linked to motives and achievement goals. The second study investigated

    * Tel.: +47 24 147907; fax: +47 24 14 79 01.E-mail address: [email protected]

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    Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 198019900191-8869/$ - see front matter 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.the links between BIS/BAS and individual dierences in self-regulatory processes and aect during prob-lem-solving. The ndings indicate that the motive to avoid failure, the inability to take action after failureand to initiate intended goal-directed activities, as well as the tendency to focus on avoiding misunderstand-ing are all grounded in threat responsiveness. Conversely, the motive to approach success, self-ecacy andthe tendency to focus on comparison with others in a problem-solving setting are grounded in incentiveresponsiveness. 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Keywords: Behavioral inhibition; Behavioral approach; Children; Achievement goals; Action control; Motivesand self-regulatory processes in children

    Gunnar Bjrnebekk *

    The Norwegian Centre for Studies of Conduct Problems and Innovative Practice, University of Oslo,

    P.O. Box 1565 Vika, 0118 Oslo, Norway

    Received 29 November 2006; received in revised form 30 May 2007; accepted 8 June 2007Available online 2 August 2007

    Abstract

    The present research explores the role of sensitivity in the BIS and the BAS as antecedents to cognitiveand aective motivational processes in middle-school children. Two studies were initiated to examine therelationship between sensitivity in the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and behavioral approach system(BAS) and several important motivational factors. The rst study looked at the assumption that the BISdoi:10.1016/j.paid.2007.06.010

  • and attention, while activity in this system induces anxiety. The personality dimension associatedwith the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) involves the degree to which responses are triggered

    G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990 1981by stimuli that signal punitive measures or the loss of a reward.The BAS is sensitive to signals of reward and is connected to approach behavior. A BAS-reac-

    tive individual will have a greater motivational reaction to a conditional stimulus for reward thana non-BAS-reactive individual. Individuals with high BAS sensitivity are also more aware of cuesof reward, as well as of cues of non-punishment or escape from punishment. In addition, high lev-els of BAS activity may give rise to impulsive behavior.There have been a number of recent revisions to Grays theory. According to the revised theory,

    the BAS is sensitive to both conditioned and unconditioned appetitive stimuli. However, theserevisions have had little impact on BAS scales, including the one employed by the present studies.Smillie et al. assert: In fact, because the unconditioned/conditioned distinction has been largelyignored in the design of BAS scales, the psychometric and the neuropsychological views of thissystem might now be in closer agreement (Smillie, Pickering, & Jackson, 2006, p. 324). Further-more, according to the GrayMcNaughton revision, the BIS is now responsible for resolving goalconicts in general, and no longer serves to mediate responses to conditioned aversive stimuli andinnate fear stimuli. These are mediated (along with unconditioned aversive stimuli) by the Fight-Flight-Freeze-System (FFFS) (McNaughton & Corr, 2004). Thus existing BIS measures have ashortcoming, as they are designed to measure threat responsiveness.

    2. Link between motives and goals

    Motives and goals are key motivational factors for predicting performance and well-being(Thrash & Elliot, 2001). Although motives and temperaments dier greatly as constructs, bothproduce motivational tendencies that function as energizers of approach and avoidance behav-ior. Motives orient individuals with regard to domain-specic positive and negative stimuli,while temperaments orient individuals with regard to domain-general stimuli. Two primaryachievement motives have been dened: the motive to approach success and the motive to avoidfailure. The motive to approach success (Ms) refers to the capacity to anticipate pleasant aec-tive changes to occur in performance situations perceived as challenging. Conversely, the motiveto avoid failure (Mf) refers to the capacity to anticipate unpleasant aective changes to occur in1. Introduction

    According to Grays biological personality theory (1982, 1990), two aect systems in the brainunderlie a great deal of human behavior and personality traits. One system regulates approachbehavior, while the other regulates avoidance behavior in response to environmental stimuli.These systems are referred to as the behavioral approach system (BAS) and the behavioral inhi-bition system (BIS), respectively.The BIS makes the individual aware of potentially dangerous situations or signals of punitive

    measures. Activation of this system is assumed to increase avoidance behavior and induces passiveavoidance, enabling the individual to examine the environment more closely for further informa-tion. The BIS is sensitive to signals of nonreward and novelty, resulting in increments in arousal

  • 1982 G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990performance situations where there is some insecurity concerning the outcome (Gjesme &Nygard, 1970). The motives represent a more socialization-based contribution, whereas theBAS and BIS are a more hard-wired contribution (McClelland, 1987). Achievement motivesare more specic than and clearly not identical to the BIS/BAS constructs. However, theBIS and BAS are likely to act as one contributor in a circuit of direct, biological contributorsto these motives.In Murrays (1959) framework, the arousal of an underlying motive disposition provides energy

    for behavior. Rather than seeking need satisfaction in a diuse sense, the individual selects andadopts a more concrete, situation-relevant goal that is expected to satisfy the activated need.According to Elliot et al., goals are vital to the self-regulation process, serving as channels forthe general propensities evoked by approach and avoidance dispositions. Goals are believed tohave a dierent function in the motivational process than aective dispositions, and are seen asspecic cognitive forms of regulation that give focus and direction to the more general propensi-ties (Elliot & Thrash, 2002, p. 806). In their hierarchical model (Elliot & McGregor, 2001), goalsare distinguished along two dimensions that capture the dierent aims of competence-based striv-ing. The rst reects a mastery-performance distinction and delineates the various referents ofcompetence that may be employed. Mastery goals are those in which the individual seeks compe-tence as dened by the task or his/her own performance history, whereas performance goals arethose in which the individual seeks to perform competently relative to others. The second dimen-sion reects the way in which competence is valenced. Approach goals involve trying to obtain adesirable outcome, whereas avoidance goals involve trying to avert an undesirable outcome(Thrash & Elliot, 2001, p. 15). Under a mastery-approach goal, one seeks to improve skills ormaster a task; under a mastery-avoidance goal one seeks to avoid falling short of task masteryor losing skill. An individual with a performance-approach goal attempts to perform well relativeto others, and conversely, an individual with a performance-avoidance goal wishes to avoid per-forming poorly relative to others.In a set of studies Elliot and Thrash (2002) showed that BAS measures are related to mastery

    goals and performance-approach goals, while BIS measures are related to performance-approachgoals and performance-avoidance goals. These studies suggest a positive relationship between theBAS and approach goals (both mastery and performance) and between the BIS and avoidancegoals. There may be a link between performance-approach goals and avoidance dispositions. Sev-eral theorists have posited that avoidance motivation at the disposition level can lead to approachbehavior at the more situation-specic level (Thrash & Elliot, 2001). It remains to be seen, how-ever, whether children will attempt to override a general avoidance tendency by approaching com-petence (i.e., approach to avoid). Elliot and Thrash (2002) have suggested that achievementmotives are potential mediators of the links between the BIS/BAS and the goals, and they expressinterest in integrating the BIS and BAS into models of school motivation. Unfortunately, the par-ticipants in the studies conducted by Elliot et al. were undergraduates enrolled in introductory-level psychology courses, so the ndings cannot be directly applied to children. Working on theassumption that a study that measured the relationship between the BIS/BAS and the motiva-tional variables in a youth population would be a valuable addition to the existing literatureand could promote further research on the development of these relationships in a school setting,the author has developed and applied the following hypotheses in Study 1:

  • lated worries, and that their threat responsiveness may also make it hard for them to self-generatepositive aect under stress. This is based on the assumption that threat responsiveness is associ-

    G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990 1983ated with an awareness of potentially dangerous situations, and that activation of this system in-creases avoidance behavior. BIS-related activity is also believed to give rise to anxiety, inducingpassive avoidance.Self-ecacy is dened as ones perceived capacity to learn or perform behaviors at desig-

    nated levels. There is ample evidence that self-ecacy can be linked to positive academic out-comes (Schunk & Pajeres, 2005:92). Because self-ecacy comprises approach-orientedcognition related to the task at hand, a positive correlation between the BAS and self-ecacyHypothesis 1. Sensitivity in the behavioral inhibition system is positively related to the motive toavoid failure, and sensitivity in the behavioral approach system is positively related to the motiveto approach success.

    Hypothesis 2. Sensitivity in the behavioral inhibition system/the motive to avoid failure is posi-tively related to the avoidance goals, and sensitivity in the behavioral approach system/the motiveto approach success is positively related to the approach goals.

    3. Link between self-regulation competence and aect during problem-solving

    Individual dierences in action orientation relate to self-regulatory competence at a more globallevel. Kuhl (1994) conceptualized action-state orientation as comprising three dimensions thatreect particular self-regulatory failures: hesitation, preoccupation and volatility. Volatility maybe aected by several other variables, and has been omitted in the present studies.The Hesitation (versus initiative) dimension refers to an individuals diculty in initiating in-

    tended goal-directed activities. High hesitation stems from an inability to activate the informationand eort needed to start tasks, and is characterized by delayed action initiation. The ability toself-generate positive aect in the face of diculties and problems is called decision-related actionorientation (AOD), while the inability to self-generate positive aect under stress is named deci-sion-related state orientation (SOD).The preoccupation (versus disengagement) dimension indicates the degree to which individ-

    uals explicitly process information related to some past, present or future aversive state. Dis-engagement refers to the ability to detach from thoughts about undesirable events that mayinterfere with progress on the task at hand. The ability to reduce negative aect after failureis called failure-related action orientation (AOF). In contrast, preoccupation is associated withimpaired eectiveness due to the preservation of thoughts related to unpleasant experiences.The inability to volitionally control negative aect is named failure-related state orientation(SOF).State orientation diers from the BIS construct with regard to the way negative aect is man-

    aged. Unlike BIS-reactive individuals, state-oriented individuals do not have an increased sensi-tivity to punishment. Instead, they have a decreased self-regulatory capacity to reduce negativeaect in a self-initiated manner (Kazen, Baumann, & Kuhl, 2003, p. 159).Hypothesis 3 asserts that highly BIS-reactive individuals have diculty detaching from goal-re-is predicted.

  • quite dierent from those you are usually given, and nothing you do today has anything to dowith school. An example of each type of task will be written on the blackboard. After the

    1984 G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990researcher had gone through the examples, the pupils were asked to answer questions about theirgoals. They were then given 22 min to solve the tasks in the booklet.After solving the tasks the participants were asked to ll out an aect scale.

    4.1.2. QuestionnairesBAS and BIS. Muris, Meesters, de Kanter, and Timmermans (2005) childrens version of Car-

    ver & Whites BAS/BIS scales, which rephrases some of the questions from the adult scale, wasused to assess the BIS and BAS. This version uses a response scale of 1 (not true) to 4 (very true),and does not contain reverse-phrases. The empirical study conducted by Muris et al. has docu-mented the reliability and validity of both the 13-item BAS measure (e.g. I often do things onthe spur of the moment) and the 7-item BIS measure (e.g. I worry about making mistakes).Motives. The achievement motives scale (AMS) (Gjesme & Nygard, 1970) was used to assess

    achievement motives. The AMS is based on achievement motivation theory, and is comprisedof: (a) items referring to positive aect and negative aect respectively, and (b) items focusingon situations that supposedly arouse a similar degree of uncertainty as to the possibility of success.Hypothesis 5. Sensitivity in the behavioral approach is positively related to pleasant aect, andsensitivity in the behavioral inhibition system is positively related to unpleasant aect duringproblem-solving.

    4. The rst study

    4.1. Method

    4.1.1. Participants and proceduresA total of 661 (335 male and 326 female) 11 to 12-year-old pupils in Oslo were recruited for this

    study and tested in groups in their classrooms. The pupils aective dispositions were assessed dur-ing the rst hour of data collection. After a break, the pupils were given an identical booklet of 42problem-solving tasks and told: This booklet contains fairly simple tasks. They are, however,A simple valence relationship between a specic aect and the BIS and BAS cannot be assumed.The relationship also depends on the ecacy of the implemented action in fullling the individ-uals goal (Carver, 2004). However, during a problem-solving session it can be expected thatthe BAS is positively related to pleasant aect, and conversely, that the BIS is positively relatedto unpleasant aect. Therefore, the author has proposed and applied the following hypotheses inStudy 2:

    Hypothesis 3. Sensitivity in the behavioral inhibition system is negatively related to failure-relatedaction orientation and to decision-related action orientation.

    Hypothesis 4. Sensitivity in the behavioral approach is positively related to self-ecacy.To illustrate, the following item is intended to measureMs: I feel pleasure at working on tasks that

  • are fairly dicult for me, while the following item is meant to measure Mf: I become anxiouswhen I meet a problem I dont understand at once. The AMS consists of 30 statements aboutaect experienced in connection with achievement situations, which are rated on a scale from 1(not at all true of me) to 4 (very true of me). Results regarding the reliability and validity of thescale as applied to middle school pupils are summarized in Christophersen and Rand (1982).Achievement goals. Elliot and McGregors (2001) achievement goals questionnaire was used to

    assess participants achievement goals for the problem-solving tasks. Three items measure eachgoal construct (mastery-approach: e.g. I want to learn as much as possible; performance-approach: e.g. It is important for me to do better than the other pupils; mastery avoidance:e.g. Im afraid that I may not understand the content as well as Id like; and performance-avoidance: e.g. My goal is to avoid performing worse than the other pupils). Items are ratedon a scale from 1 (not at all true of me) to 7 (very true of me). Pajeres, Britner, and Valiantes(2000) empirical studies have documented the reliability and validity of using achievement goal

    the BAS, the BIS and the motives, with the exception of the unexpected relationship between

    G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990 1985the BIS and the Ms.

    Table 1Descriptive statistics, reliabilities and intercorrelations among the BIS/BAS, the achievement motives, and theachievement goals

    N = 661 M SD a 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    1. BAS 35.35 6.3 .76 12. BIS 17.28 3.8 .73 .25** 13. Motive to approach success 43.9 6.5 .82 .22** .16** 14. Motive to avoid failure 29.2 8.1 .88 .13** .45** .19** 15. Performance-approach goal 11.2 4.7 .77 .26** .16** .27** .07 16. Mastery-approach goals 16.0 3.9 .74 .17** .17** .38** .02 .43** 17. Performance-avoidance goals 11.3 4.6 .64 .25** .25** .13** .24** .40** .29** 18. Mastery-avoidance goals 10.3 4.4 .75 .19** .35** .20** .31** .39** .37** .38**questionnaires for middle-school children.

    4.2. Results and discussion

    Table 1 displays the descriptive statistics, reliabilities and correlation between the variables inthe study.To test Hypothesis 1, Mf and Ms were independently regressed on BIS and BAS. Regressing Mf

    on BIS and BAS yielded a signicant eect for the overall model, F(2, 658) = 82.23, p < .0001,R2 = .20. A signicant main eect for BIS indicated that individuals with high threat responsive-ness are also more likely to have a high Mf, b = .44, t(2, 658) = 12.31, p < .0001. When the eectof BIS was blocked, the eect for BAS was non-signicant. Regressing Ms on BIS and BASrevealed a signicant eect for the overall model, F(2, 658) = 20.25, p < .0001, R2 = .06. Signicantmain eects were obtained for both BAS, b = .19, t(2, 658) = 4.81, p < .0001, and BIS, b = .11,t(2, 658) = 2.81, p < .01. Thus, the results support the hypotheses regarding the links between** Correlation is signicant at the .01 level (2-tailed).

  • 1986 G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 198019905. The second study

    5.1. Method

    5.1.1. Participants and proceduresA total of 314 (164 male and 150 female) 11 to 12-year-old pupils in Oslo were recruited for this

    study. The procedure was the same as in Study 1, except that the pupils action orientation wasassessed during the rst hour of data collection, and the pupils were asked to answer questionsabout their self-ecacy after the researcher had gone through the examples.

    5.1.2. QuestionnairesBAS and BIS. See Study 1.Action-state orientation.Kuhls Action Control Scale (ACS; 1994) was used to assess action ori-

    entation. Each scale consists of 12 items depicting brief scenarios that occur in everyday life, andparticipants are required to select one of two options indicating what they would do in the givensituation. The wording of the questions in the ACS makes the scale applicable for both youngpeople (from 12 years of age) and adults.Example item from the AOF scale:When I have to solve a dicult problem,

    (A) It takes me a long time to adjust myself to it.Regressing the performance-approach goal on the proposed antecedents yielded a signicanteect for the overall model, F(4, 656) = 22.90, p < .0001, R2 = .12. A signicant main eect forBAS indicated that incentive responsive participants are more likely to adopt a performance-approach goal, b = .19, t(4, 656) = 4.97, p < .0001. Likewise a signicant main eect for Msrevealed that those high in the need for success are more likely to adopt a performance-approachgoal, b = .23, t(4, 656) = 5.79, p < .0001. Regressing the mastery-approach goal revealed asignicant eect for the overall model, F(4, 656) = 31.11, p < .0001, R2 = .16. A signicant maineect is shown for Ms, b = .36, t(4, 656) = 9.27, p < .0001. No signicant eects were obtained forthe BAS, the BIS, or the Mf variables. However, the correlation between the BAS and mastery-approach is signicant (r = .17, p < .01).Regressing the performance-avoidance goal on the proposed antecedents revealed a signicant

    eect for the overall model, F(4, 656) = 24.29, p < .0001, R2 = .13. Signicant main eects wereobtained for Mf, b = .19, t(4, 656) = 4.37, p < .0001, BAS, b = .18, t(4, 656) = 4.57, p < .0001,Ms, b = .11, t(4, 656) = 2.73, p < .01, and BIS, b = .11, t(4, 656) = 2.51, p < .05.Regressing the mastery-avoidance goal revealed a signicant eect for the overall model, F(4,

    656) = 40.57, p < .0001, R2 = .20. Signicant main eects were obtained for Mf, b = .25, t(4,656) = 6.10, p < .0001, Ms, b = .20, t(4, 656) = 5.36, p < .0001, and BIS, b = .19, t(4, 656) =4.69, p < .0001.Thus, with the exception of the positive link between the BAS/Ms and performance-avoidance

    goal adoption and between the Ms and the mastery-avoidance goal, the ndings support thehypotheses.(B) It bothers me for a while, but then I dont think about it anymore.

  • Example item from the AOD scale:When I know I must nish something soon,

    (A) I have to push myself to get started.(B) I nd it easy to get it done and over with.

    Activated unpleasant aect and activated pleasant aect. These scales were constructed using theterms from the schematic model presented by Yik, Russell, and Feldman Barrett (1999) as guide-lines. Four core aect items for each eight octants were collected to systematically sample and cov-er each region of the circular structure of aect. The activated pleasant aect factor consistedof the octants pleasant and pleasant activated, and the activated unpleasant factor comprisedthe octants unpleasant and unpleasant activated. All items are in state form and relate to theproblem-solving situation.Task-ecacy. Banduras guide for constructing self-ecacy scales (2006) was used to con-

    struct a ve-item task-ecacy scale, which focuses on pupils condence in their skills to performthe problem-solving tasks. Pajeres et al.s (2000) empirical studies have documented the reliability

    G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990 1987and validity of using self-ecacy questionnaires for middle-school pupils.

    5.2. Results and discussion

    Table 2 displays the descriptive statistics, reliabilities and correlation between the variables inthe study.To test Hypothesis 3, AOD and AOF were independently regressed on BIS and BAS. Regress-

    ing AOF on BIS and BAS yielded a signicant eect for the overall model, F(2, 311) = 42.12,p < .0001, R2 = .21. A signicant main eect for BIS indicated that individuals with high threatresponsiveness are also more likely to have a low level of ability to detach from intrusive thoughtsand goal-related worries, b = .46, t(2, 311) = 8.71, p < .0001.

    Table 2Descriptive statistics, reliabilities and intercorrelations among the BIS/BAS, self-regulation competence, and aectduring problem-solving

    N = 314 M SD a 1 2 3 4 5 6

    1. BAS 35.3 6.7 .79 12. BIS 15.9 4.5 .81 .31** 13. Task-ecacy 14.9 3.2 .85 .21** .02 14. Decision relatedaction (AOD)

    16.6 2.8 .79 .04 .17** .30** 1

    5. Action afterfailure (AOF)

    17.0 2.7 .71 .15** .46** .02 .18** 1

    6. Activatedpleasant aect

    26.1 7.4 .86 .19* .17** .30** .22** .07 1

    7. Activatedunpleasant aect

    9.5 4.1 .75 .15* .20** .14* .09 .15** .13*

    * Correlation is signicant at the .05 level (2-tailed).

    ** Correlation is signicant at the .01 level (2-tailed).

  • Regressing activated unpleasant aect on the variables related to self-regulation competenceand BIS/BAS revealed a signicant eect for the overall model, F(5, 307) = 5.22, p < .0001,

    1988 G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990R2 = .08. Signicant main eects were obtained for incentive responsiveness, b = .14, t(5,307) = 2.36, p < .05, self-ecacy, b = .17, t(6, 307) = 2.90, p < .01, and threat responsiveness,b = .12, t(5, 307) = 1.91, p < .05.Thus, the ndings support the hypothesis regarding the link between the BIS and unpleasant

    aect and between the BAS and pleasant aect during problem-solving. The positive link betweenincentive responsiveness and unpleasant aect and between the BIS and pleasant aect was notanticipated.

    6. General discussion

    The research ndings suggest that sensitivity in the BAS is an antecedent to the tendency to feelpositive aect in connection with achievement situations (high Ms and activation of pleasant aectduring problem-solving), as well as to the belief in ones ability to solve the problems at hand (self-ecacy). It is also related to the ability to set achievement goals which involve out-performingothers or which employ normative standards, such as grades (adoption of performance-approachgoals). However, BAS-reactive individuals also tend to focus on avoiding inferior performance incomparison with others (adoption of performance-avoidance goals) and feel unpleasant aectduring problem-solving.Sensitivity in the BIS appears to be an antecedent to avoidance at all levels. More concretely,

    the ndings suggest that persons who have a sensitive BIS tend to feel negative aect in connectionwith achievement situations (high Mf and high unpleasant aect during problem-solving) and tryto avoid being wrong (adoption of mastery-avoidance goals). These individuals tend to have a lowlevel of ability to escape the state-oriented mode of processing (high hesitation and high preoccu-pation). The BIS was, however, also positively related to the motive to approach success and toRegressing AOD on BIS and BAS revealed a signicant eect for the overall model,F(2, 311) = 4.66, p < .01, R2 = .03. A signicant main eect for BIS indicated that individu-als with high threat responsiveness are also more likely to have diculty initiating intendedgoal-directed activities, b = .18, t(2, 311) = 2.99, p < .01. Thus, the ndings support thehypothesis.Regressing self-ecacy on BIS/BAS and the action orientation variables yielded a signicant

    eect for the overall model, F(4, 308) = 12.77, p < .0001, R2 = .14. A signicant main eect forBAS indicated that individuals with high incentive responsiveness are also more likely to haveself-ecacy, b = .23, t(4, 308) = 4.05, p < .0001. A signicant main eect for AOD indicated thatindividuals with a high ability to self-generate positive aect in the face of diculties are also morelikely to possess greater task-ecacy, b = .31, t(4, 308) = 5.76, p < .0001.Regressing activated pleasant aect on the variables related to self-regulation competence and

    BIS/BAS revealed a signicant eect for the overall model, F(5, 307) = 11.42, p < .0001, R2 = .16.Signicant main eects were obtained for incentive responsiveness, b = .10, t(5, 307) = 1.70,p < .05, one-tailed, self-ecacy, b = .23, t(5, 307) = 4.04, p < .0001, threat responsiveness,b = .15, t(5, 307) = 2.43, p < .05, and AOD, b = .19, t(5, 307) = 3.30, p < .01.pleasant aect during problem-solving.

  • Bandura, A. (2006). Guide to the construction of self-ecacy scales. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.). Self-ecacy

    Psychology, 80(3), 501519.Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2002). Approach-avoidance motivation in personality: Approach-avoidance

    G. Bjrnebekk / Personality and Individual Dierences 43 (2007) 19801990 1989temperaments and goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 804818.Gjesme, T., & Nygard, R. (1970). Achievement related motives: Theoretical considerations and construction of a

    measuring instrument. Unpublished report, University of Oslo.Gray, J. A. (1982). The neuropsychology of anxiety. Oxford: Clarendon.Gray, J. A. (1990). Brain systems that mediate both emotion and cognition. Cognition and Emotion, 4, 269288.Kazen, M., Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J. (2003). Self-inltration vs. self-compatibility checking in dealing with unattractive

    tasks: The moderating inuence of state vs. action orientation. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 157197.Kuhl, J. (1994). A theory of action versus state orientation. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckmann (Eds.), Volition and personality:

    action versus state orientation (pp. 946). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe.McClelland, D. C. (1987). Human motivation. Cambridge, UK: University Press.McNaughton, N., & Corr, P. J. (2004). A two-dimensional view of defensive systems: Defensive distance and fear/

    anxiety. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, 28, 285305.Muris, P., Meesters, C., de Kanter, E., & Timmerman, P. E. (2005). Behavioural inhibition and behavioural activation

    system scales for children: relationship with Eysencks personality traits and psychopathological symptoms.Personality and Individual Dierences, 38(4), 831841.

    Murray, H. A. (1959). Preparations for the scaold of a comprehensive system. In Psychology: A study of a science. Inbeliefs of adolescents (Vol. 5, pp. 307337). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.Carver, C. S. (2004). Negative aect deriving from the behavioural approach system. Emotion, 4, 322.Christophersen, K.-A., & Rand, P. (1982). Factor structure of the achievement motives scale (AMS): two factors two

    samples. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 26, 1328.Elliot, A. J., & McGregor, H. A. (2001). A 2 2 achievement goal framework. Journal of Personality and SocialThus, to a large extent, the childrens version of the BIS/BAS scales was found to correlate in atheoretically meaningful way with motives, volition control and activated aect during problem-solving. Although the relationship between the BIS and the Ms, between the BIS and positive af-fect during problem-solving, and between the BIS and the BAS are dicult to explain, they arerather minor in the overall picture. These relationships may be related to childrens greater sus-ceptibility to response tendency (Muris et al., 2005). In general, the results from the present studiesprovide a much-needed rst step in demonstrating the usefulness of the BIS and the BAS conceptsas antecedents to major motivational and self-regulatory processes in middle-school children.Nevertheless, there are limitations: rstly, although self-reporting is appropriate for assessing sub-jective experiences such as threat responsiveness and aect during problem-solving, the implemen-tation of more objective measures might be a useful addition to future studies; secondly, theunexpected ndings need elaboration; and thirdly, there is a need for a longitudinal design to testthe proposed causal sequences.

    Acknowledgements

    Thanks to Torgrim Gjesme for his helpful comments and suggestions. I also thank two anon-ymous referees who made valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article.

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    Reinforcement sensitivity theory and major motivational and self-regulatory processes in childrenIntroductionLink between motives and goalsLink between self-regulation competence and affect during problem-solvingThe first studyMethodParticipants and proceduresQuestionnaires

    Results and discussion

    The second studyMethodParticipants and proceduresQuestionnaires

    Results and discussion

    General discussionAcknowledgementsReferences