Exploring behavioral activation and inhibition sensitivities among college students at risk for bipolar spectrum symptomatology

Björn Meyer, Sheri L. Johnson, Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

162 Scopus citations


We explored cross-sectionally the roles in bipolar spectrum symptomatology of two broad motivational systems that are thought to control levels of responsiveness to cues of threat and reward, the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) and the Behavioral Activation System (BAS). Undergraduate students (n = 357) completed questionnaires regarding (a) bipolar spectrum disorders [the General Behavior Inventory (GBI), a well- established clinical screening measure], (b) current depression and mania symptoms (the Internal State Scale; ISS), and (c) BIS/BAS sensitivities (the BIS/BAS scales). Validated cutoff scores on the GBI were used to identify individuals at risk for a mood disorder. It was hypothesized that, among at- risk respondents, high BAS and low BIS levels would be associated with high current mania ratings, whereas low BAS and high BIS would be associated with high current depression ratings. Multiple regression analyses indicated that, among at-risk individuals (n = 63), BAS accounted for 27% of current mania symptoms but BIS did not contribute. For these individuals, BAS and BIS were both significant and together accounted for 44% of current depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-292
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes



  • Behavioral activation
  • Behavioral inhibition
  • Bipolar disorder
  • BIS/BAS scales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this