Thinking too much: Self-generated thought as the engine of neuroticism

Adam M. Perkins, Danilo Arnone, Jonathan Smallwood, Dean Mobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Neuroticism is a dimension of personality that captures trait individual differences in the tendency to experience negative thoughts and feelings. Established theories explain neuroticism in terms of threat sensitivity, but have limited heuristic value since they cannot account for features of neuroticism that are unrelated to threat, such as creativity and negative psychological states experienced in benign, threat-free environments. We address this issue by proposing that neuroticism stems from trait individual differences in activity in brain circuits that govern the nature of self-generated thought (SGT). We argue our theory explains not only the association of neuroticism with threat sensitivity but also the prominence within the neurotic mind of representations of information that are unrelated to the way the world is right now, such as creativity and nonsituational 'angst'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-498
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume19
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Creativity
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Neuroticism
  • Personality
  • Self-generated thought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Thinking too much: Self-generated thought as the engine of neuroticism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this