Carver, C. S., & White, T. L. (1994). Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: The BIS/BAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 319-333.

Gray (1981, 1982) holds that two general motivational systems underlie behavior and affect: a behavioral inihibition system (BIS) and a behavioral activation system (BAS). We created self-report scales to assess dispositional BIS and BAS sensitivities. We report scale development (Study 1), and convergent and discriminant validity in the form of correlations with alternative measures (Study 2). In Study 3 we created a situation in which subjects anticipated a punishment. Controlling for initial nervousness, subjects high in BIS sensitivity (assessed earlier) were more nervous than those low. In Study 4 we created a situation in which subjects anticipated a reward. Controlling for initial happiness, subjects high in BAS sensitivity (Reward responsiveness and Drive scales) were happier than those low. In each case our scales predicted better than an alternative measure. Discussion focuses on conceptual implications.

The BIS/BAS scales are available for research and teaching applications, by downloading the linked page .

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University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology