TitleThe Ups and Downs of Cognitive Function: Neuroticism and Negative Affect Drive Performance Inconsistency.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMunoz, E, Stawski, RS, Sliwinski, MJ, Smyth, JM, MacDonald, SWS
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published01/2020
KeywordsAdult, Affect, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cognition, Cognitive Aging, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neuroticism, Personality Inventory, Reaction Time, Young Adult

OBJECTIVES: Response time inconsistency (RTI)-or trial-to-trial variability in speeded performance-is increasingly recognized as an indicator of transient lapses of attention, cognitive health status, and central nervous system integrity, as well as a potential early indicator of normal and pathological cognitive aging. Comparatively, little research has examined personality predictors of RTI across adulthood.

METHODS: We evaluated the association between the personality trait neuroticism and RTI in a community-dwelling sample of 317 adults between the ages of 19-83 and tested for two indirect pathways through negative affect (NA) and cognitive interference (CI).

RESULTS: The personality trait neuroticism predicted greater RTI independent of mean response time performance and demographic covariates; the results were age-invariant. Furthermore, NA (but not CI) accounted for this association and moderated mediation model results indicated that older adults were more vulnerable to the adverse effects of NA.

DISCUSSION: Neuroticism predicts greater RTI irrespective of mean performance and this effect is driven largely by heightened negative emotionality that may be particularly detrimental for older adults.

Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
PubMed ID29590450
PubMed Central IDPMC7179809
Grant ListF32 AG056134 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R21 AG045575 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG039409 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG026728 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States