Reactivity and Anxiety in the Laboratory and Beyond

  • Paul M. Kohn
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


Reactivity as a concept (Strelau, 1983) is the psychological obverse of strength of the nervous system (Nebylitsyn, 1972a). Thus, highly reactive people, ones with a weak nervous system, are sensitive to weak stimulation, have a low optimum level of stimulation and arousal, are distractible and lack “functional endurance.” The last term means that they are less able than others to respond adaptively to increasingly intense, prolonged, or repetitive stimulation. Their reaction time, for example, should stop quickening and, in fact, slow down in response to increasingly loud auditory stimuli at a lower volume than is characteristic of low reactives. In technical language, high reactives have a lower “threshold of transmarginal inhibition” than other people (Keuss & Orlebeke, 1977; Nebylitsyn, 1972a). Low reactives, persons with strong nervous systems, of course, show the opposite characteristics.


Trait Anxiety Standard Instruction Reactivity Scale Perceive Stress Scale Pain Tolerance 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul M. Kohn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityNorth YorkCanada

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