Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Neuroticism, recall bias and attention bias for valenced probes: a twin study

  • F. V. Rijsdijk (a1), H. Riese (a2) (a3), M. Tops (a4), H. Snieder (a3), W. H. Brouwer (a5) (a6), H. G. O. M. Smid (a2) and J. Ormel (a2)...

Abstract

Background

Prior research on the nature of the vulnerability of neuroticism to psychopathology suggests biases in information processing towards emotional rather than neutral information. It is unclear to what extent this relationship can be explained by genetic or environmental factors.

Method

The genetic relationship between a neuroticism composite score and free recall of pleasant and unpleasant words and the reaction time on negative probes (dot-probe task) was investigated in 125 female twin pairs. Interaction effects were modelled to test whether the correlation between neuroticism and cognitive measures depended on the level of the neuroticism score.

Results

The only significant correlation was between neuroticism and the proportion of recalled unpleasant words (heritability is 30%), and was only detectable at the higher end of the neuroticism distribution. This interaction effect seems to be due to environmental effects that make people in the same family more similar (e.g. parental discipline style), rather than genetic factors. An interesting sub-finding was that faster reaction times for left versus right visual field probes in the dot-probe task suggest that cognitive processing in the right hemisphere is more sensitive to subliminal (biologically relevant) cues and that this characteristic is under substantial genetic control (49%). Individual differences in reaction times on right visual field probes were due to environmental effects only.

Conclusions

There is no evidence that the predisposition of individuals to focus on negative (emotional) stimuli is a possible underlying genetic mechanism of neuroticism.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: F. V. Rijsdijk, Ph.D., SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Box number PO80, London SE5 8AF, UK. (Email: f.rijsdijk@iop.kcl.ac.uk)

References

Hide All
Beck, AT, Rush, AJ, Shaw, BF, Emery, G (1985). Cognitive Therapy of Depression. Guilford: New York.
Bouhuys, AL, Bloem, GM, Groothuis, TG (1995). Induction of depressed and elated mood by music influences the perception of facial emotional expressions in healthy subjects. Journal of Affected Disorder 33, 215226.
Bouhuys, AL, Geerts, E, Gordijn, M (1999). Depressed patients' perception of facial emotions in depressed and remitted state is associated with relapse: a longitudinal study. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders 187, 595602.
Bradley, BP, Mogg, K (1994). Mood and personality in recall of positive and negative information. Behaviour Research and Therapy 32, 137141.
Campbell, DD, Rijsdijk, FV, Sham, PC (2007). Computation of individual latent variable scores from data with multiple missingness patterns. Behaviour Genetics 37, 408422.
Chan, SWY, Goodwin, GM, Harmer, CJ (2007). Highly neurotic students have negative biases in information processing. Psychological Medicine 39, 12811291.
Cloninger, CR (1986). A unified biosocial theory of personality and its role in the development of anxiety states. Psychiatric Developments 4, 167226.
Costa, PT, McCrae, RR (1987). Neuroticism, somatic complaints, and disease: is the bark worse than the bite? Journal of Personality 55, 299316.
Costa, PT, McCrae, RR (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and the Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI): Professional Manual. Psychological Assessment Resources Inc.: Odessa, FL.
Ekman, P, Friesen, WV (1976). Pictures of Facial Affect. Consulting Psychologists Press: Palo Alto, CA.
Eysenck, HJ, Eysenck, MW (1985). Personality and Individual Differences. A Natural Science Approach. Plenum Press: New York.
Eysenck, HJ, Eysenck, SBG (1975). Manual of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. Hodder & Stoughton: London.
Goodwin, RD, Fergusson, DM, Horwood, LJ (2003). Neuroticism in adolescence and psychotic symptoms in adulthood. Psychological Medicine 33, 10891097.
Hettema, JM, Neale, MC, Myers, JM, Prescott, CA, Kendler, KS (2006). A population-based twin study of the relationship between neuroticism and internalizing disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 163, 857864.
Hill, AB, Dutton, F (1989). Depression and selective attention to self-esteem threatening words. Personality and Individual Differences 10, 915917.
Hoekstra, H, Ormel, J, De Fruyt, F (1996). NEO-PI-R NEO-FFI. Big Five Persoonlijkheidsvragenlijsten [NEO-PI-R NEO-FFI. Big Five Personality Inventory]. Swets Test Service: Lisse, The Netherlands.
Jardine, R, Martin, NG, Henderson, AS (1984). Genetic covariation between neuroticism and the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Genetic Epidemiology 1, 89107.
Joormann, J, Talbot, L, Gotlib, IH (2007). Biased processing of emotional information in girls at risk for depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 116, 135143.
Kendler, KS, Gardner, CO, Gatz, M, Pedersen, N (2006). The sources of co-morbidity between major depression and generalized anxiety disorder in a Swedish national sample. Psychological Medicine 36, 110.
Kendler, KS, Gardner, CO, Prescott, CA (2003). Personality and the experience of environmental adversity. Psychological Medicine 33, 11931202.
Kendler, KS, Kessler, RC, Neale, MC, Heath, AC, Eaves, LJ (1993). The prediction of major depression in women: toward an integrated etiologic model. American Journal of Psychiatry 150, 11391148.
Kendler, KS, Prescott, CA, Jacobson, K, Myers, J, Neale, MC (2002). The joint analysis of personal interview and family history diagnoses, evidence for validity of diagnosis and increased heritability estimates. Psychological Medicine 32, 829842.
Khan, AA, Jacobson, KC, Gardner, CO, Prescott, CA, Kendler, KS (2005). Personality and comorbidity of common psychiatric disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry 186, 190196.
Lau, JYF, Rijsdijk, F, Eley, TC (2006). I think, therefore I am: a twin study of attributional style in adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47, 696703.
Mackintosh, MA, Gatz, M, Wetherell, JL, Pedersen, NL (2006). A twin study of lifetime generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in older adults: genetic and environmental influences shared by neuroticism and GAD. Twin Research and Human Genetics 9, 3037.
Martin, M (1985). Neuroticism as predisposition toward depression: a cognitive mechanism. Personality and Individual Differences 6, 353365.
Martin, N, Boomsma, DI, Machin, G (1997). A twin-pronged attack on complex traits. Nature Genetics 17, 387392.
Mathews, A, MacLeod, C (1994). Cognitive approaches to emotion and emotional disorders. Annual Review of Psychology 45, 2550.
McCrae, RR, Costa, PT Jr. (1997). Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist 52, 509516.
Mogg, K, Bradley, BP (1999). Orienting of attention to threatening facial expressions presented under conditions of restricted awareness. Cognition and Emotion 13, 713740.
Mogg, K, Bradbury, KE, Bradley, BP (2006). Interpretation of ambiguous information in clinical depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy 44, 14111419.
Neale, MC (1999). Mx: Statistical Modeling, 5th edn. Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia: Richmond, VA.
Neale, MC, Boker, SM, Xie, G, Maes, HH (2002). Mx: Statistical Modeling, 6th edn. Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia: Richmond, VA.
Neale, MC, Cardon, L (1992). Methodology for Genetic Studies of Twins and Families, NATO ASI Series: Behavioral and Social Sciences. Kluwer Academic Publishers: Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Neale, MC, Miller, MB (1997). The use of likelihood-based confidence intervals in genetic models. Behavior Genetics 27, 113120.
Nichols, RC, Bilbro, WC (1966). The diagnosis of twin zygosity. Acta Genetica Basel 16, 265275.
Ormel, J, Oldehinkel, AJ, Brilman, EI (2001). The interplay and etiological continuity of neuroticism, difficulties, and life events in the etiology of major and subsyndromal, first and recurrent depressive episodes in later life. American Journal of Psychiatry 158, 885891.
Ormel, J, Rosmalen, J, Farmer, A (2004). Neuroticism: a non-informative marker of vulnerability to psychopathology. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 39, 906912.
Ormel, J, Wohlfarth, T (1991). How neuroticism, long-term difficulties, and life situation change influence psychological distress: a longitudinal model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 60, 744755.
Purcell, S (2002). Variance components models for gene–environmental interaction in twin analysis. Twin Research 5, 554571.
Riese, H, Rosmalen, JG, Ormel, J, van Roon, AM, Oldehinkel, AJ, Rijsdijk, FV (2007). The genetic relationship between neuroticism and autonomic function in female twins. Psychological Medicine 37, 257267.
Rijsdijk, FV, Sham, PC (2002). Analytic approaches to twin data using structural equation models. Briefings in Bioinformatics 3, 119133.
Rogosa, DR, Willett, JB (1983). Demonstrating the reliability of the difference score in the measurement of change. Journal of Educational Measurement 20, 335343.
Rusting, CL (1998). Personality, mood, and cognitive processing of emotional information: three conceptual frameworks. Psychological Bulletin 124, 165196.
Sanderman, R, Eysenck, SBG, Arrindell, WA (1991). Cross-cultural comparisons of personality – the Netherlands and England. Psychological Reports 69, 10911096.
Schmukle, SC (2005). Unreliability of the dot probe task. European Journal of Personality 19, 595605.
Tops, M, van der Pompe, G, Baas, D, Mulder, LJ, Den Boer, JA, Meijman, TF, Korf, J (2003). Acute cortisol effects on immediate free recall and recognition of nouns depend on stimulus valence. Psychophysiology 40, 167173.

Keywords

Neuroticism, recall bias and attention bias for valenced probes: a twin study

  • F. V. Rijsdijk (a1), H. Riese (a2) (a3), M. Tops (a4), H. Snieder (a3), W. H. Brouwer (a5) (a6), H. G. O. M. Smid (a2) and J. Ormel (a2)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed