Behavioral Approach System (BAS)-Relevant Cognitive Styles and Bipolar Spectrum Disorders: Concurrent and Prospective Associations

Lauren B. Alloy, Lyn Y. Abramson, Patricia D. Walshaw, Rachel K. Gerstein, Jessica D. Keyser, Wayne G. Whitehouse, Snezana Urosevic, Robin Nusslock, Michael E. Hogan, Eddie Harmon-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


The authors examined concurrent and prospective associations of behavioral approach system (BAS)-relevant and non-BAS-relevant cognitive styles with bipolar spectrum disorders. Controlling for depressive and hypomanic/manic symptoms, 195 individuals with bipolar spectrum disorders scored higher than 194 demographically similar normal controls on BAS sensitivity and BAS-relevant cognitive dimensions of performance concerns, autonomy, and self-criticism, but not on behavioral inhibition system sensitivity and non-BAS-relevant dimensions of approval seeking, sociotropy, and dependency. Moreover, group differences on autonomy fully mediated the association between higher BAS sensitivity and bipolar status. In addition, only BAS-related cognitive dimensions predicted the likelihood of onset of depressive and hypomanic/manic episodes among the bipolar individuals over a 3.2-year follow-up, controlling for initial symptoms and past history of mood episodes. Higher autonomy and self-criticism predicted a greater likelihood of hypomanic/manic episodes, and higher autonomy predicted a lower likelihood of major depressive episodes. In addition, autonomy mediated the associations between BAS sensitivity and prospective hypomanic/manic episodes. These findings suggest that individuals with bipolar spectrum disorders may exhibit a unique profile of BAS-relevant cognitive styles that influence the course of their mood episodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-471
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • behavioral approach system (BAS)
  • bipolar spectrum disorder
  • cognitive styles


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