The History and Theory of Behavioral Inhibition



This chapter summarizes the events that led to the concepts of behavioral inhibition (BI) as well as high and low reactive infants. It argues for the need to gather multiple measures and search for patterns that represent categories of individuals rather than treat all measures as reflections of continuous traits. The chapter suggests that infants born with a high reactive temperamental bias are most likely to display inhibited behavior in the toddler years, but with development, many are able to suppress this profile even though they experience an uncomfortable tension in unfamiliar situations. The feeling of tension renders those who were high reactive infants vulnerable to frequent bouts of guilt or shame and, in some, the symptoms of anxiety or depression.


Behavioral inhibition Infant reactivity Amygdala Guilt Developmental patterns 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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