Personality Traits and Emotional Word Recognition: An ERP Study

Li Chuan Ku*, Shiao hui Chan, Vicky T. Lai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has investigated how personality trait differences influence the processing of emotion conveyed by pictures, but limited research has examined the emotion conveyed by words. The present study investigated whether extraversion (extroverts vs. introverts) and neuroticism (high neurotics vs. low neurotics) influence the processing of positive, neutral, and negative words that were matched for arousal. Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded from healthy participants while they performed a lexical decision task. We found that personality traits influenced emotional word recognition at N400 (300-450 ms) and LPC (450-800 ms). At the earlier (N400) stage, the more extraverted and neurotic a participant was, the more reduced the N400s for the positive words relative to neutral words were. This suggests that the extroverts and high neurotics (i.e., high impulsivity) identified positive content in words during lexical feature retrieval, which facilitated such retrieval. At the later (LPC) stage, both the introverts and high neurotics (i.e., high anxiety) showed greater LPCs to negative than neutral words, indicating their sustained attention and elaborative processing of negative information. These results suggest that extraversion and neuroticism collectively influence different stages of emotional word recognition in a way that is consistent with Gray’s biopsychological theory of personality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-386
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1


  • Anxiety
  • Emotional words
  • Event-related potentials
  • Extraversion
  • Impulsivity
  • Neuroticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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