Personality and opponent processes: Shyness, sociability, and visual afterimages to emotion. Academic Article uri icon

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  • The opponent process theory of emotion posits that emotional states evoke opposite emotion states as they wane, resulting in sequential approach and withdrawal motivations. However, whether opponent processes are associated with individual differences in personality remains an empirical question. Using visual afterimage responses to emotional faces as an index of opponent processes, we found that young adults (N = 101; Mage = 19.41 years, SD = 2.06 years) characterized by relatively high shyness and high sociability (i.e., conflicted shyness) were more likely to perceive a negative face emotion afterimage after adapting to happy faces and a positive face emotion afterimage after adapting to angry faces, compared with young adults classified by other combinations of high and low shyness and sociability. We speculate that conflicted shyness may result from strong opponent processes to both positive and negative emotions to real or anticipated social situations in some individuals, resulting in conflicting social motivations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


  • Poole, Kristie L
  • Khalesi, Zahra
  • Rutherford, MD
  • Swain, Anna
  • Mullen, Jennifer N
  • Hall, Geoffrey
  • Schmidt, Louis A

publication date

  • February 4, 2019