Reinforcement-Sensitive Personality Traits

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Reinforcement-Sensitive Personality Traits Associated With Passion in Heterosexual Intimate Relationships: An fNIRS Investigation.

According to the triangular theory of love, passion is an indispensable component of romantic love. Some brain imaging studies have shown that passionate arousal in intimate relationships is associated with the reward circuits in the brain. We hypothesized that the individual reward sensitivity trait is also related to passion in intimate relationships, and two separate studies were conducted in the present research. In the first study, 558 college students who were currently in love were selected as participants. The correlation between intimacy and reinforcement sensitivity in individuals identifying as heterosexual was explored using the Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire, the Passionate Love Scale, and the Triangular Love Scale. In the second study, participants were 42 college students who were also currently in love. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) was adopted to explore the neurophysiological interaction between reward sensitivity and emotional arousal induced in participants when presented a photograph of their partner, a friend, or a stranger. The results showed that reward sensitivity was positively correlated with passion, and punishment sensitivity was negatively correlated with intimacy and commitment. Significant interactions between reward sensitivity and photograph type were found, and the triangular part of the inferior frontal gyrus showed a particular relevance to the reward-sensitive personality trait toward partners. Overall, the findings support reinforcement sensitivity theory and suggest that reinforcement-sensitive personality traits (personality traits of reward and punishment sensitivity) are associated with all three components of love, with only reward sensitivity being related to passion.

PMID: 32792923 [PubMed]

Front Behav Neurosci. 2020;14:126

Authors: Gu L, Yang R, Zhang Q, Zhang P, Bai X