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The reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality in children: A new questionnaire

Cooper, A. J., Stirling, S., Dawe, S. , Pugnaghi, G. & Corr, P. J. (2016). The reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality in children: A new questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2016.06.028


We report the development of a self-report questionnaire of the reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST) of personality for use with children. Focus groups were held with children to sample their experiences of situations modelled on components of three RST systems: fight-flight-freeze system (FFFS, related to fear), behavioural inhibition system (BIS, related to anxiety), and behavioural approach system (BAS, related to approach). The thematic responses formed the conceptual anchors to the development of test items that were examined using exploratory factor analysis in a sample of 288 9–13 year olds. After eliminating items that did not load on their designated factor, or substantially cross-loaded over factors, the original 48 items were reduced to 21 items: 7 items for each of the BIS, FFFS and BAS factors. The separation of the BIS and FFFS items across two factors is consistent with the revised model of RST. We offer this new questionnaire as a RST measure of fundamental motivation and emotion traits in children.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: Personality; Approach; Avoidance; Goal conflict; Reinforcement sensitivity theory; Children
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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