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

Michael D. Robinson*, Maya Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Neuroticism
  • Reaction time
  • Variability


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