Theories of associative learning have a long history in advancing the psychological account of behavior via cognitive representation. There are many components and variations of associative theory but at the core is the idea that links or connections between stimuli or responses describe important aspects of our psychological experience. This Frontiers Topic considers how variations in association formation can be used to account for differences between people, elaborating the differences between males and females, differences over the life span, understanding of psychopathologies or even across cultural contexts. A recent volume on the application of learning theory to clinical psychology is one example of this emerging application (e.g., Hazelgrove & Hogarth, 2012). The task for students of learning has been the development, often with mathematically defined explanations, of the parameters and operators that determine the formation and strengths of associations. The ultimate goal is to explain how the acquired representations influence future behavior. This approach has recently been influential in the field of neuroscience where one such learning operator, the error correction principle, has unified the understanding of the conditions which facilitate neuron activation with the computational goals of the brain with properties of learning algorithms (e.g., Rescorla & Wagner, 1972). In this Frontiers Research Topic, we are interested in a similar but currently developing aspect to learning theory, which is the application of the associative model to our understanding of individual differences, including psychopathology. In general, learning theories are monolithic, the same theory applies to the rat and the human, and within people the same algorithm is applied to all individuals. If so this might be thought to suggest that there is little that learning theory can tell us about the how males and females differ, how we change over time or why someone develops schizophrenia for instance. However, these theories have wide scope for developing our understanding of when learning occurs and when it is interfered with, along with a variety of methods of predicting these differences. We received contributions from researchers studying individual differences, including sex differences, age related changes and those using analog or clinical samples of personality and psychopathological disorders where the outcomes of the research bear directly on theories of associative learning. This Research Topic brings together researchers studying basic learning and conditioning processes but in which the basic emotional, attentional, pathological or more general physiological differences between groups of people are modeled using associative theory. This work involves varying stimulus properties and temporal relations or modeling the differences between groups.
"The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Individual Differences provides a comprehensive, up-to-date overview of recent research, current perspectives, practical applications, and likely future developments in the field of individual differences. Bringing together the work of top researchers in the field from around the world, this essential reference work covers methodological, theoretical, and paradigm changes in the area of individual differences. Separate chapters cover core areas of individual differences including personality and intelligence, biological causes of individual differences, and creativity and emotional intelligence. The unparalleled scope of this work makes it a must-have resource for advanced psychology students, academics, and practitioners"--
AN ACCEPTABLE WAY OF REPRESENTING CONSISTENCY AS A MODERATOR VARIABLE USING INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IS THROUGH INTERACTION TERMS IN A SEQUENTIAL REGRESSION ANALYSIS THAT DEPARTS FROM THE TRADITIONAL MODERATOR MODEL, BUT RESULTS WITH SIMULATED DATA ARE MODEST. THE AUTHORS SUGGEST SEARCH FOR IMPORTANT MODERATOR EFFECTS IN FIELD OF PERSONALITY SHOULD BE GUIDED BY GENERIC IDEAS ABOUT SYSTEMATIC INTERACTIONS.
For several decades, theory and research has drawn links between dopaminergic neurotransmission and various aspects of personality and individual differences, as well as major personality processes. Recent increases in the availability and affordability of neuroscience methods have permitted thorough investigation of such links as part of the thriving field of personality neuroscience. However, the picture emerging from this body of research is somewhat puzzling; Rather than being linked to only a few converging dimensions of individual differences in psychological functioning, dopamine seems to be associated with a wide range of rather disparate traits and psychopathological conditions including (among various others) impulsivity, extraversion, anxiety, reward sensitivity, approach behaviour, achievement motivation, working memory performance, cognitive flexibility, depression, anhedonia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. Empirical research in this area typically focuses on only one piece of this puzzle based on a specific strand of theory and a narrow section of relevant prior findings. The present research topic will, for the first time, attempt to provide a fairly complete picture of the whole puzzle including all its disparate parts. Contributors will therefore be explicitly encouraged to go beyond their own specific dopamine-personality hypotheses and place their work in a broader context, thereby helping to forge links between largely non-overlapping research traditions.