Bringing the brain into personality assessment: Is there a place for event-related potentials?

Advances in technology have provided opportunities to assess physiological correlates and further our understanding of a number of constructs, including personality traits. Event-related potentials (ERPs), scalp-recorded measures of brain activity with millisecond temporal resolution, show properties that make them potential candidates for integrating neurophysiological methods into personality research. Several commonly used ERPs have trait-like properties including test—retest stability approaching .8 over two weeks. Additionally, ERP methods are relatively inexpensive and tolerable compared to other neurophysiological methods (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI]) making them easier to obtain sample sizes required for individual differences research. Finally, the tasks that elicit ERPs are flexible enough to allow researchers to customize the tasks to the psychological constructs of interest. These factors suggest that ERPs could potentially be useful in the study of personality and individual differences. A baseline approach to this line of inquiry is to examine the properties of ERPs as neurophysiological individual differences markers and probe their links to personality traits as assessed by self-report questionnaires. This article does this for three well-studied ERPs. Techniques commonly used in personality assessment research–but rarely in ERP research–were applied to these candidate ERPs to examine their psychometric properties and personality correlates. Overall, although ERPs show promising properties as neurophysiological indicators of individual differences, they were only marginally related with existing personality traits. Further research clarifying the ERPs measurement properties and potential links with known personality processes is needed. Finally, we list some strategies to further integrate these two areas of research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)