Behavioral Approach System (BAS)-Relevant Cognitive Styles and Bipolar Spectrum Disorders: Concurrent and Prospective Associations

Lauren B. Alloy*, Lyn Y. Abramson, Patricia D. Walshaw, Rachel K. Gerstein, Jessica D. Keyser, Wayne G. Whitehouse, Snezana Urosevic, Robin Nusslock, Michael E. Hogan, Eddie Harmon-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The authors examined concurrent and prospective associations of behavioral approach system (BAS)-relevant and non-BAS-relevant cognitive styles with bipolar spectrum disorders. Controlling for depressive and hypomanic/manic symptoms, 195 individuals with bipolar spectrum disorders scored higher than 194 demographically similar normal controls on BAS sensitivity and BAS-relevant cognitive dimensions of performance concerns, autonomy, and self-criticism, but not on behavioral inhibition system sensitivity and non-BAS-relevant dimensions of approval seeking, sociotropy, and dependency. Moreover, group differences on autonomy fully mediated the association between higher BAS sensitivity and bipolar status. In addition, only BAS-related cognitive dimensions predicted the likelihood of onset of depressive and hypomanic/manic episodes among the bipolar individuals over a 3.2-year follow-up, controlling for initial symptoms and past history of mood episodes. Higher autonomy and self-criticism predicted a greater likelihood of hypomanic/manic episodes, and higher autonomy predicted a lower likelihood of major depressive episodes. In addition, autonomy mediated the associations between BAS sensitivity and prospective hypomanic/manic episodes. These findings suggest that individuals with bipolar spectrum disorders may exhibit a unique profile of BAS-relevant cognitive styles that influence the course of their mood episodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-471
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • behavioral approach system (BAS)
  • bipolar spectrum disorder
  • cognitive styles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Behavioral Approach System (BAS)-Relevant Cognitive Styles and Bipolar Spectrum Disorders: Concurrent and Prospective Associations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this