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Biological Processes and Personality Notes

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University of Pittsburgh
PSY 0160

10/8 Biological Processes and Personality Eysenck’s Theory about RAS • “Old School” biological theory o RAS is a gateway, regulates amount of stuff that gets into the brain o Defined extraverts and introverts in terms of arousal  Introverts: overarousal, don’t need to seek it outwithdraw to avoid overstimulation  Extraverts: underarousal, seek arousing situationsengage in stimulating activities  Neuroticism: easily aroused emotion centers (exaggerates behavior of introverts and extraverts) • Critique o Not a currently leading theory o RAS is not a general system that regulates arousal across the brain o No difference in arousal between extraverts and introverts in a quiet environment o Conceptual support  Exciting stimuliintroverts react more strongly (more cortical arousal)  Extraverts seek this stimulation out Approach and Inhibition Behavioral Approach System • Movement towards desired states or objects • Responsible for positive emotions (left prefrontal cortex) • Relates to conditioning towards positive outcomes o Ex. rewards rather than punishment 10/8 • People with different levels of BAS sensitivity demonstrate differences in responses to incentives • May be related to dopamine Behavioral Inhibition System • Regulates movement away from not-desired states or objects (or “staying put”) • Associated with anxiety (right prefrontal cortex) • Conditioning involving negative outcomes o Ex. punishment for doing poorly in school • Serotonin (regulates basic emotion) and/or GABA activity (inhibits function all over the brain, anti-anxiety) • These people tend to be more hesitant, wait more Differences • BIS-related emotionality and neuroticism o Anxiety at core o Respond to anxiety manipulations  Envisioning threatening situations • BAS-related extraversion o Respond to positive mood manipulation  Envisioning self at a fun party Areas of Disagreement • Social qualities of extraversion? o Social incentives are a class of rewards to which extraverts are drawn o Ex. I’m motivated to do well in my performance because lots of people will see me • Role of impulsivity o Extraversion or separate trait? • Another view—impulsivity with positive affect belongs with extraversion 10/8 Sensation Seeking • Seek new, varied, exciting experiences • Monoamine Oxidase blockers o Increase sensitivity to other neurotransmitters o Levels of sensation seeking o Social dominance, aggression, impulsivity • Function o Regulates exposure to stimulus intensity  HSS open up to stimulation  HSS do well in overstimulating conditions  LSS adapt better to most ordinary circumstances, but may shut
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