Carver and White’s (1994) BIS/BAS scales and their relationship to risky health behaviours Academic Article uri icon


  • The BIS (behavioural inhibition) and BAS (behavioural approach) motivational systems are thought to influence an individual's proclivity to engage in risky health behaviours. Using a sample of college undergraduates from four universities (N = 1014), Carver and White's (1994) BIS and BAS subscales (Reward Responsiveness, Drive, and Fun Seeking) were tested against seven health composites including sex, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, safety, inactivity, and poor diet. Contrary to expectations, Reward Responsiveness (rather than BIS) served as a protective force against engagement in the risky health behaviours. In comparison, the Fun Seeking subscale performed as anticipated, generating strong, positive associations with all but two of the behaviours. The results are discussed in the context of recent theorizing as well as the factor structure of BIS and BAS, given concerns about the latter's dimensionality.

author list (cited authors)

  • Voigt, D. C., Dillard, J. P., Braddock, K. H., Anderson, J. W., Sopory, P., & Stephenson, M. T.

citation count

  • 92

publication date

  • July 2009