The effects of neuroticism and depressive symptoms on psychophysiological responses in a social judgment task were examined in a sample of 101 healthy young adults. Participants performed a social judgment task in which they had to predict whether or not a virtual peer presented on a computer screen liked them. After the prediction, the actual judgment was shown, and behavioral, electrocortical, and cardiac responses to this judgment were measured. The feedback-related negativity (FRN) was largest after unexpected feedback. The largest P3 was found after the expected “like” judgments, and cardiac deceleration was largest following unexpected “do not like” judgments. Both the P3 and cardiac deceleration were affected by gender—that is, only males showed differential P3 responses to social judgments, and males showed stronger cardiac decelerations. Time–frequency analyses were performed to explore theta and delta oscillations. Theta oscillations were largest following unexpected outcomes and correlated with FRN amplitudes. Delta oscillations were largest following expected “like” judgments and correlated with P3 amplitudes. Self-reported trait neuroticism was significantly related to social evaluative predictions and cardiac reactivity to social feedback, but not to the electrocortical responses. That is, higher neuroticism scores were associated with a more negative prediction bias and with smaller cardiac responses to judgments for which a positive outcome was predicted. Depressive symptoms did not affect the behavioral and psychophysiological responses in this study. The results confirmed the differential sensitivities of various outcome measures to different psychological processes, but the found individual differences could only partly be ascribed to the collected subjective measures.,
Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

van der Veen, F., van der Molen, M., van der Molen, M., & Franken, I. (2016). Thumbs up or thumbs down? Effects of neuroticism and depressive symptoms on psychophysiological responses to social evaluation in healthy students. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 16(5), 836–847. doi:10.3758/s13415-016-0435-2