The robust nature of the biopsychosocial model challenge and threat: a reply to Wright and Kirby

Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2003;7(3):234-43. doi: 10.1207/S15327957PSPR0703_03.


This article responds to Wright and Kirby's (this issue) critique of our biopsychosocial (BPS) analysis of challenge and threat motivation. We counter their arguments by reviewing the current state of our theory as well as supporting data, then turn to their specific criticisms. We believe that Wright and Kirby failed to accurately represent the corpus of our work, including both our theoretical model and its supporting data. They critiqued our model from a contextual, rational-economic perspective that ignores the complexity and subjectivity of person-person and person-environmental interactions as well as nonconscious influences. Finally, they provided criticisms regarding possible underspecificity of antecedent components of our model that do not so much indicate theoretical flaws as provide important and interesting questions for future research. We conclude by affirming that our BPS model of challenge and threat is an evolving, generative theory directed toward understanding the complexity of personality and social psychological factors underlying challenge and threat states.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Perception*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology