Modeling Personality and Individual Differences: The Approach-Avoid-Conflict Triad


Personality is the unique patterning of affect, behavior, cognition and desires in individuals across time and situations. This patterning can occur on different information processing levels, specifically, the Reactive, Routine, and Reflective levels (Ortony et al., 2005), across these four domains. Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST; Gray & McNaughton, 2000) provides a biological account of the functional subdivision of the reactive level into the approach, avoidance, and conflict systems. These systems differ in their sensitivities to different classes of cues, giving rise to personality differences. But, individuals also differ at the routine and reflective levels in terms of how they respond (cognitively, affectively, behaviorally and motivationally) to approach situations, avoidance situations, and internal conflicts. In this paper, we discuss how the approach-avoidance-conflict (AAC) triad can be used as a broad framework for incorporating personality and individual differences into theories of human cognitive architectures. We also present work in progress on a computer implementation of the AAC triad at the reactive level.

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