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Personality traits/Psycholinguistics/Matthews: Talkativeness is a central feature of Extraversion, and, indeed, extraverts appear to talk more than introverts in social situations (Dewaele and Furnham 1999)(1). However, Extraversion does not relate to linguistic processing in any general sense; often, no extravert-introvert differences on verbal tasks (including verbal ability tasks) are found.
Language acquisition: Studies of learning a second language show no effect of Extraversion on formal proficiency tests. However, when speakers’ verbal utterances are recorded and analysed in detail, extraverts are found to be more fluent (and perhaps more colloquial) in speech production, in both first and second language use.
Extraverts may also be more willing to risk making errors during conversation in order to maintain fluency (i.e., speed-accuracy trade-off).
Verbal problem-solving: Extraversion relates to deficits in solving problems requiring protracted reflection, because they tend to accept false solutions prematurely (Weinman 1987)(2). By contrast, fluency and a focus on speed of response may be beneficial for creative problem-solving and generation of original ideas (Martindale 2007)(3).
Cognitive bias: Early studies of anxiety and cognitive bias (see Williams, Watts, MacLeod and Mathews 1997)(4) showed that anxious persons tend to attach threatening meanings to ambiguous spoken words (homophones) that might be interpreted as having either a threatening or neutral meaning.
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Recent work also shows that experimental induction of a negative interpretive bias through a training procedure also elevates vulnerability to anxiety (Wilson, MacLeod, Mathews and Rutherford 2006)(5).
1. Dewaele, J. and Furnham, A. 1999. Extraversion: the unloved variable in applied linguistic research, Language Learning 49: 509–44
2. Weinman, J. 1987. Non-cognitive determinants of perceptual problem-solving strategies, Personality and Individual Differences 8: 53–8
3. Martindale, C. 2007. Creativity, primordial cognition, and personality, Personality and Individual Differences 43: 1777–85
4. Williams, J. M. G., Watts, F. N., MacLeod, C. and Mathews, A. 1997. Cognitive psychology and emotional disorders, 2nd edn. Chichester: Wiley
5. Wilson, E. J., MacLeod, C., Mathews, A. and Rutherford, E. M. 2006. The causal role of interpretive bias in anxiety reactivity, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 115: 103–11
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