Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Psychological Science


Psychological Science (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Jon Barch


Neuroticism is a relatively stable personality dimension characterized by tendencies to experience negative thoughts and affect. Its empirically related outcome measures range from anxiety and mood disorders to increases in mortality. Traditional theories of neuroticism, link the construct to greater threat sensitivity, however, these conceptions fail to account for certain salient features of neuroticism, such as negative affect in threat benign environments. The mental noise hypothesis posits that neuroticism results from a more variable mental control system, with support coming from behavioral, psychometric, and neuroimaging paradigms. To assess whether this more chaotic mental control system would variably disrupt the stimulus evaluation phase of cognition, single trial latency variance of the P3b event related potential was assessed in individuals who scored high and low on neuroticism inventories. The primary analysis in this paper failed to provide support for P3b latency variance as the neural generator of the more variable mental control system previously observed in those high in neuroticism. Exploratory analyses with electrode Pz, however, found interesting relationships between lower order neuroticism aspects and prolonged P3b latencies, as well as higher levels of interparticipant P3b latency variance in high neuroticism groups.

Access Type

Open Access