Neuroticism as mental noise: a relation between neuroticism and reaction time standard deviations

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Jul;89(1):107-14. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.89.1.107.


Those higher in neuroticism are often more variable in their behavior and experience. On the basis of this observation, the authors hypothesized that the trait of neuroticism might be correlated with the variability of performance pertaining to relatively basic cognitive operations. Three studies involving 242 college undergraduates supported this prediction in that neuroticism correlated positively with the variability of performance across trials of reaction time tasks. These results link neuroticism to cognitive noise that intervenes between stimulus and response. Such noise has been associated with executive dysfunctions (e.g., frontal lobe injury) in previous research. The present findings are potentially useful for understanding why neuroticism often correlates with variations in the functionality of cognition and behavior.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Neurotic Disorders / psychology
  • Personality*
  • Reaction Time*
  • United States