The dual-system theory of bipolar spectrum disorders: A meta-analysis

Benjamin A. Katz, Hadar Naftalovich, Kathryn Matanky, Iftah Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Bipolar spectrum disorders are characterized by alternating intervals of extreme positive and negative affect. We performed a meta-analysis to test the hypothesis that such disorders would be related to dysregulated reinforcement sensitivity. First, we reviewed 23 studies that reported the correlation between self-report measures of (hypo)manic personality and measures of reinforcement sensitivity. A large relationship was found between (hypo)manic personality and BAS sensitivity (g = .74), but not with BIS sensitivity (g = -.08). This stands in contrast to self-reported depression which has a small, negative relationship with BAS sensitivity and a large positive one with BIS sensitivity (Katz et al., 2020). Next, we reviewed 33 studies that compared reinforcement sensitivity between euthymic, bipolar participants and healthy controls. There, bipolar disorder had a small, positive relationship with BAS sensitivity (g = .20) and a medium, positive relationship with BIS sensitivity (g = .64). These findings support a dualsystem theory of bipolar disorders, wherein BAS sensitivity is more closely related to mania and BIS sensitivity more closely to bipolar depression. Bipolar disorders show diatheses for both states with euthymic participants being BAS- and BIS- hypersensitive. Implications for further theory and research practice are expounded upon in the discussion.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number101945
JournalClinical Psychology Review
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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