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Affective Neuroscience Theory and Personality: An Update

  • Christian Montag (a1) (a2) and Kenneth L. Davis (a3)
Abstract

The present work gives a short overview of central aspects of Jaak Panksepp’s Affective Neuroscience Theory (AN theory) and its relevance for modern personality neuroscience. In contrast to the widely used Big Five approach to studying and understanding human personality, AN theory provides researchers with a distinct roadmap to the biological basis of personality, including molecular and neuroanatomical candidates, to understand individual differences in human behavior. Such molecular and neuroanatomical brain candidates have been derived by means of electrical brain stimulation and pharmacological challenges, while investigating primary emotional systems anchored in the subcortical mammalian brain. Research results derived from the study of emotions in mammals are also of relevance for humans because ancient layers of our minds—those layers where primary emotions originate—have been homologously conserved across species. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense because primal emotions represent “built-in tools for survival” for all mammals. In this context, Montag and Panksepp recently illustrated a potential ancient neurobiological effect by carving out robust associations between individual differences in primary emotions (assessed via self-report) and the Big Five in a cross-cultural study with data from the United States, Germany, and China. These associations together with some ideas derived from MacLean’s Triune Brain concept highlighted (a) that primary emotions likely represent the phylogenetically oldest parts of human personality and (b) that primary emotions influence human personality in a bottom-up fashion given their localization in ancient subcortical brain regions. A comment on the work by Montag and Panksepp asked for insights on putative links between primary emotions and facets of the Big Five. Therefore, we provide some first insights into such associations from recent Germany data. In addition, the present work provides a new short version of the Affective Neuroscience Personality Scales to assess individual differences in primary emotions.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-ncnd/4.0/), which permits noncommercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Christian Montag, E-mail: mail@christianmontag.de
References
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Personality Neuroscience
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2513-9886
  • URL: /core/journals/personality-neuroscience
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