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

Perkins, Adam M. and Arnone, Danilo and Smallwood, Jonathan and Mobbs, Dean (2015) Thinking too much: self-generated thought as the engine of neuroticism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19 (9). pp. 492-498. ISSN 1364-6613.

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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’.

Item Type:Article
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Mobbs, Dean0000-0003-1175-3772
Additional Information:© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Available online 27 August 2015. A.M.P. and D.A. are funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London. D.A.’s research is supported by the Academy of Medical Sciences (grant number AMS-SGCL8). D.A. has also received travel grants from Janssen-Cilag and Servier. J.S. is supported by grants from the Templeton Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health, or any of the funding agencies. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, Mariana Wieske for her contribution to the artwork, and the print-designer Emma Wright for valuable discussions on the links between neuroticism and creativity. Finally, we are indebted to Rebecca Schwarzlose for providing us with editorial support of the highest calibre.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institute for Health ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Mental Health Biomedical Research CentreUNSPECIFIED
Maudsley NHS Foundation TrustUNSPECIFIED
King's College LondonUNSPECIFIED
Academy of Medical SciencesAMS-SGCL8
John Templeton FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Volkswagen FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:personality; neuroticism; creativity;self-generated thought; medial prefrontal cortex
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180302-144347750
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Official Citation:Thinking too much: self-generated thought as the engine of neuroticism Perkins, Adam M. et al. Trends in Cognitive Sciences , Volume 19 , Issue 9 , 492 - 498
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:85072
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:02 Mar 2018 23:22
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 19:26

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