Personality and Conditioning: A Test of Four Models

Richard Zinbarg*, William Revelle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Four experiments were conducted to test hypotheses derived from 4 alternative models of individual differences in instrumental conditioning. A standard go-no-go discrimination learning task was used in each of the 4 experiments. The results indicate that individual differences in performance of this discrimination are more consistently and strongly associated with impulsivity and anxiety than with extraversion and neuroticism. In each of the experiments, high anxiety hindered the learning of a go-no-go discrimination more among high impulsive Ss than among low impulsive Ss, and in 2 of the experiments high anxiety actually facilitated learning among low impulsive Ss. These findings are incompatible with Eysenck's and Gray's hypotheses regarding extraversion but are not inconsistent with Newman's. Aspects of these results do support Spence's and Gray's models of anxiety and instrumental conditioning. However, both of these models were contradicted by other trends in the data. A modification of Gray's model of impulsivity and anxiety that emphasizes the role of expectancies was proposed to fit these data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-314
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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