Male and female subjects worked at a digit-symbol substitution test under conditions of massed practice for six trials (acquisition phase). The order of symbols was then completely reversed to effect sudden disruption in performance (negative transfer). Subjects then worked at the test with reversed key for six trials under conditions of massed practice (recovery phase). Predictions about rate of acquisition, degree of disruption, and rate of recovery were based on multiplicative-drive theory and on Eysenck's theory of extraversion/introversion and the inhibition/excitation balance.

Results show that degree of disruption is positively correlated with both rate of acquisition and rate of recovery for males and females. Differences in MPI neuroticism and extraversion scores are not associated with the predicted differences in performance at the task. In discussion it is suggested that attempts to incorporate personality variables into learning theory need to consider different ways in which situations can differ, and other conceptions of the learning process in addition to multiplicative-drive theory.