Reinforcement sensitivity theory and cognitive architectures

Karl Fua*, Ian D Horswill, Andrew J Ortony, William R Revelle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


Many biological models of human motivation and behavior posit a functional division between those subsystems responsible for approach and avoidance behaviors. Gray and McNaughton's (2000) revised Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) casts this distinction in terms of a Behavioral Activation System (BAS) and a Fight-Flight-Freeze System (FFFS), mediated by a third, conflict resolution system - the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS). They argued that these are fundamental, functionally distinct systems. The model has been highly influential both in personality psychology, where it provides a biologically-based explanation of traits such as extraversion and neuroticism, and in clinical psychology wherein state disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be modeled as differences in baseline sensitivities of one or more of the systems. In this paper, we present work in progress on implementing a simplified simulation of RST in a set of embodied virtual characters. We argue that RST provides an interesting and potentially powerful starting point for cognitive architectures for various applications, including interactive entertainment, in which simulation of human-like affect and personality is important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures-II - Papers from the AAAI Fall Symposium, Technical Report
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2009
Event2009 AAAI FAll Symposium - Arlington, VA, United States
Duration: Nov 5 2009Nov 7 2009

Publication series

NameAAAI Fall Symposium - Technical Report


Other2009 AAAI FAll Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityArlington, VA


  • Cognitive architecture
  • Emotions
  • Personality
  • Reinforcement sensitivity theory
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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