An analysis of fidgeting and associated individual differences

Authors


Requests for reprints should be sent to Albert Mehrabian, Department of Psychology, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Abstract

Fidgeting was defined as engaging in manipulations of one's own body parts or other objects, such actions being peripheral or nonessential to central ongoing events or tasks Two studies employed preliminary fidgeting questionnaires of 70 and 106 items, respectively, tapping a wide range of habitual behaviors Item selection and factor analyses led to the development of a final, 40-item, individual difference measure of fidgeting tendency which is balanced for response bias and has an alpha reliability coefficient of 89 Convergent and construct validity were supported by positive correlations between the fidgeting tendency measure and measures of tendencies to engage in extraneous activities (consuming alcoholic drinks, cigarette smoking, eating, daydreaming, restlessness, insomnia) while preoccupied with certain situations and tasks These findings implied that fidgeting is an activity overflow and that it is more probable when the organism's physical activity is constrained by the central or focal act Fidgeting tendency also correlated positively with binge eating and with physical activity In two additional studies, questionnaire fidgeting tendency scores correlated positively with direct observations of fidgeting by subjects and with peer predictions Personality correlates of fidgeting tendency were well defined More fidgety persons were more unpleasant and more arousable (i e, more anxious or hostile) Fidgeting tendency did not correlate significantly with subject sex or with arousal-seeking tendency

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