, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 556-562

Personality predicts temporal attention costs in the attentional blink paradigm


Accuracy for a second target is reduced when it is presented within 500 msec of a first target. This phenomenon is called the attentional blink (AB). A diffused attentional state (via positive affect or an additional task) has been shown to reduce the AB, whereas a focused attentional state (via negative affect) has been shown to increase the AB, purportedly by influencing the amount of attentional investment and flexibility. In the present study, individual differences in personality traits related to positive affect, negative affect, and cognitive flexibility were used to predict individual differences in AB magnitude. As hypothesized, greater extraversion and openness predicted smaller ABs. Greater openness also predicted higher overall target accuracy. Greater neuroticism predicted larger ABs and lower overall target accuracy. Conscientiousness, associated with less cognitive flexibility, predicted lower overall target accuracy. Personality may modulate the AB by influencing overinvestment via dispositional tendencies toward more or less stringent or capable cognitive control.

The work reported in this article was supported by a fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to the first author and by grants from NSERC, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and Ontario Innovation Trust to the second author.