Task engagement and the relationships between the error-related negativity, agreeableness, behavioral shame proneness and cortisol

Tops, M., Boksem, M. A. S., Wester, A. E., Lorist, M. M. & Meijman, T. F., Aug-2006, In : Psychoneuroendocrinology. 31, 7, p. 847-858 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Previous results suggest that both cortisol. mobilization and the error-related negativity (ERN/Ne) reflect goal engagement, i.e. the mobilization and allocation of attentional and physiological resources. Personality measures of negative affectivity have been associated both to high cortisol levels and large ERN/Ne amplitudes. However, measures of positive social adaptation and agreeableness have also been related to high cortisol levels and large ERN/Ne amplitudes. We hypothesized that, as long as they relate to concerns over social evaluation and mistakes, both personality measures reflecting positive affectivity (e.g. agreeableness) and those reflecting negative affectivity (e.g. behavioral shame proneness) would be associated with an increased likelihood of high task engagement, and hence to increased cortisol mobilization and ERN/Ne amplitudes. We had female subjects perform a flanker task while EEG was recorded. Additionally, the subjects fitted out questionnaires measuring mood and personality, and salivary cortisol immediately before and after task performance was measured. The overall pattern of relationships between our measures supports the hypothesis that cortisol. mobilization and ERN/Ne amplitude reflect task engagement, and both relate positively to each other and to the personality traits agreeableness and behavioral shame proneness. We discuss the potential importance of engagement-disengagement and of concerns over social evaluation for research on psychopathology, stress and the ERN/Ne. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-858
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2006


  • cortisol, error-related negativity, agreeableness, behavioral shame proneness, engagement, concern over social evaluation, POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER, PERSONALITY-TRAITS, CINGULATE ACTIVITY, MENTAL FATIGUE, BRAIN ACTIVITY, SOCIAL SELF, ACTIVATION, RESPONSES, FMRI, DEPRESSION

ID: 4456562