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Selective Attention/cognitive psychology/Matthews: Selective attention refers to focusing attention on one of several stimulus sources. Personality may influence the efficiency of selective attention. Furnham and Strbac (2002)(1) found that extraverts were more resistant to background noise than introverts across a range of tasks; extraverts may indeed prefer to study with music or other noise in the background. Anxiety and Neuroticism are also commonly found to be associated with selective attention deficits, a result that may reflect a more general attentional impairment related to these traits. Newton, Slade, Butler and Murphy (1992)(2) found that both Extraversion and low Neuroticism were associated with faster speed of visual search, when subjects were required to find a single letter target in a random display of letters.
Schizophrenia: Difficulties in inhibiting aberrant thoughts and images may contribute to the ‘positive symptoms’ of schizophrenia including hallucinations and delusions (Lubow and Gewirtz 1995)(3). Schizotypal individuals may be deficient in inhibition of irrelevant stimuli. Studies using attentional tasks that provide measures of latent inhibition have confirmed this hypothesis (e.g., Tsakanikos 2004)(4).
Anxiety: A variety of paradigms have been used to demonstrate that anxiety relates to preferential selection of threat stimuli (see Bar-Haim, Lamy, Pergamin et al. 2007(5); Williams, Watts, MacLeod and Mathews 1997(6) for reviews).
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Unconscious bias: is bias unconscious or does it reflect a voluntary strategy of active search for potential threats? (See Matthews and Wells 2000(7)). It is plausible that both types of process may be involved. Mathews and Mackintosh (1998)(8) proposed a dual-process approach, within which bias is produced initially by an automatic threat evaluation system, but may be compensated by voluntary effort.
1. Furnham, A. and Strbac, L. 2002. Music is as distracting as noise: the differential distraction of background music and noise on the cognitive test performance of introverts and extraverts, Ergonomics 45: 203–17
2. Newton, T., Slade, P., Butler, N. M. and Murphy, P. 1992. Personality and performance on a simple visual search task, Personality and Individual Differences 13: 381–2
3. Lubow, R. E. and Gewirtz, C. 1995. Latent inhibition in humans: data, theory, and implications for schizophrenia, Psychological Bulletin 117: 87–103
4. Tsakanikos, E. 2004. Latent inhibition, visual pop-out and schizotypy: is disruption of latent inhibition due to enhanced stimulus salience?, Personality and Individual Differences 37: 1347–58
5. Bar-Haim, Y., Lamy, D., Pergamin, L., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. and van IJzendoorn, M. H. 2007. Threat-related attentional bias in anxious and nonanxious individuals: a meta-analytic study, Psychological Bulletin 133: 1–24
6. Williams, J. M. G., Watts, F. N., MacLeod, C. and Mathews, A. 1997. Cognitive psychology and emotional disorders, 2nd edn. Chichester: Wiley
7. Matthews, G. and Wells, A. 2000. Attention, automaticity and affective disorder, Behaviour Modification 24: 69–93
8. Mathews, A. and Mackintosh, B. 1998. A cognitive model of selective processing in anxiety, Cognitive Therapy and Research 22: 539–60
Gerald Matthews, „ Personality and performance: cognitive processes and models“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Philip J. Corr
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009