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Keywords:

  • ERPs;
  • Error-related negativity;
  • Error negativity;
  • Motivation;
  • Conscientiousness;
  • Neuroticism

Abstract

This study examines changes in the error-related negativity (ERN/Ne) related to motivational incentives and personality traits. ERPs were gathered while adults completed a four-choice letter task during four motivational conditions. Monetary incentives for finger and hand accuracy were altered across motivation conditions to either be equal or favor one type of accuracy over the other in a 3:1 ratio. Larger ERN/Ne amplitudes were predicted with increased incentives, with personality moderating this effect. Results were as expected: Individuals higher on conscientiousness displayed smaller motivation-related changes in the ERN/Ne. Similarly, those low on neuroticism had smaller effects, with the effect of Conscientiousness absent after accounting for Neuroticism. These results emphasize an emotional/evaluative function for the ERN/Ne, and suggest that the ability to selectively invest in error monitoring is moderated by underlying personality.