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Extraversion, Threat Categorizations, and Negative Affect: A Reaction Time Approach to Avoidance Motivation


  • The first author acknowledges support from NIMH (MH 068241).

can be directed to Michael Robinson, Psychology Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105. Internet correspondence can be directed to


Abstract The authors sought to measure a component of the avoidance self-regulation system, specifically one related to object appraisal functions. Participants performed a choice reaction time task (Studies 1 & 2) or a go/no go task (Study 3) in which they were asked to categorize words (e.g., knife) as threatening in nature. In a series of three studies involving 236 undergraduates, the authors found that introverts who were skilled at categorizing events as threatening (vs. introverts slow to do so) experienced more negative affect in their daily lives. Among extraverts, threat categorization performance did not predict negative affect. The authors suggest that implicit threat categorizations render individuals vulnerable to negative affect but that high levels of Extraversion are capable of inhibiting such affective consequences. The authors discuss implications of the findings for extant views of Extraversion, avoidance motivation, and self-regulation.