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The relations between the personality trait of neuroticism and mechanisms of cognitive processing are reviewed. Major experimental findings in this area are described and used to evaluate a number of different cognitive theories of neuroticism, including spreading-activation, self-schema and fragmentation models. The empirical findings centre on the observation of idiosyncratic patterns of cognitive processing of emotional stimuli as a function of the level of neuroticism. These idiosyncracies are similar to those which have been observed to occur as a function of depressed mood, and it is suggested that they may be of relevance to the development and maintenance of clinical depression and other emotional disorders. Specifically, it is hypothesized that the cognitive processing of negative self-related information is generally facilitated among high N scorers and that, in appropriate circumstances, this tendency can lead to episodes of clinical depression. © 1985.

Original publication




Journal article


Personality and Individual Differences

Publication Date





353 - 365