We hypothesized that interactions between traits and context predict task engagement, as measured by the amplitude of the error-related negativity (ERN), performance, and relative frontal activity asymmetry (RFA). In Study 1, we found that drive for reward, absorption, and constraint independently predicted self-reported persistence. We hypothesized that, during a prolonged monotonous task, absorption would predict initial ERN amplitudes, constraint would delay declines in ERN amplitudes and deterioration of performance, and drive for reward would predict left RFA when a reward could be obtained. Study 2, employing EEG recordings, confirmed our predictions. The results showed that most traits that have in previous research been related to ERN amplitudes have a relationship with the motivational trait persistence in common. In addition, trait-context combinations that are likely associated with increased engagement predict larger ERN amplitudes and RFA. Together, these results support the hypothesis that engagement may be a common underlying factor predicting ERN amplitude.

doi.org/10.3758/CABN.10.4.441, hdl.handle.net/1765/31579
Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Tops, M., & Boksem, M. (2010). Absorbed in the task: Personality measures predict engagement during task performance as tracked by error negativity and asymmetrical frontal activity. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 10(4), 441–453. doi:10.3758/CABN.10.4.441