Behavioral inhibition system (BIS) functioning (Gray, The Psychology of Fear and Stress. Cambridge University Press, 1987) was assessed by measuring whether approach responses were emitted more slowly when a cue for punishment was present. Experiment 1 compared high- and low-anxious as well as high- and low-impulsive university students. As predicted by Gray's model (Gray, The neuropsychology of anxiety. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), high-anxious subjects responded more slowly than low-anxious subjects on cue-present vs cue-absent displays. Experiment 2 compared incarcerated psychopaths and nonpsychopaths subdivided into high- and low-anxious groups. Consistent with weak BIS models of psychopathy (Fowles, Psychophysiology, 17, 87-104, 1980; Gray, The psychology of fear and stress, Cambridge University Press, 1987), psychopaths displayed less inhibition than controls on cue- present trials, but this effect was limited to comparisons involving high-anxious psychopaths and controls.
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