Anxiety and depression are often associated with attention control deficits, but few studies have explored whether neuroticism can account for these links. In the present study, undergraduate students (n=146) completed self-report measures of neuroticism, worry, anxious arousal, and anhedonic depression and also completed a visual attention task in which they were asked to identify a red target letter embedded within a rapid sequence of items. Neuroticism was associated with detection of the target when it was preceded by a distracter with which it shared a feature in common (a green letter). Specifically, these distracters produced longer attentional blinks in individuals with elevated levels of neuroticism. In contrast, target detection was not significantly associated with worry, anxious arousal, or anhedonic depression. We discuss the implications of this link between neuroticism and attention for cognitive models of emotional distress and disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)