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Neuropsychologia. 2015 Jul;73:161-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.05.008. Epub 2015 May 14.

Eye contact reveals a relationship between Neuroticism and anterior EEG asymmetry.

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Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu, Estonia. Electronic address:
Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu, Estonia; Estonian Academy of Sciences, Estonia.
Human Information Processing Laboratory, School of Social Sciences and Humanities/Psychology, University of Tampere, Finland. Electronic address:


Although anterior functional brain asymmetry has been linked to individual differences in affect and motivation, its relations with the Five Factor Model personality traits remain unclear. We investigated anterior EEG alpha-activity asymmetry in response to variable degrees of social contact induced by different gaze directions of a "live" model. Neuroticism was negatively related to the anterior EEG asymmetry scores in response to direct gaze, indicating that higher levels of Neuroticism were associated with avoidance-related, relative right-sided functional brain asymmetry. Neuroticism was also related to behavioral direct gaze avoidance and subjective averted gaze preference. These relationships arose primarily from the Withdrawal aspect factor, suggesting that two subdomains of Neuroticism may be differentially related to approach-avoidance tendencies. These findings demonstrate that experimental manipulations of social contact can reveal personality related differences in anterior EEG asymmetry responsiveness, offering a motivationally salient alternative to resting state measures.


Anterior EEG asymmetry; Big Five aspect factor; Eye contact; Gaze direction; Neuroticism; Social contact

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