A capability model of individual differences in frontal EEG asymmetry

James A. Coan, John J.B. Allen, Patrick E. McKnight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

288 Scopus citations


Researchers interested in measuring individual differences in affective style via asymmetries in frontal brain activity have depended almost exclusively upon the resting state for EEG recording. This reflects an implicit conceptualization of affective style as a response predisposition that is manifest in frontal EEG asymmetry, with the goal to describe individuals in terms of their general approach or withdrawal tendencies. Alternatively, the response capability conceptualization seeks to identify individual capabilities for approach versus withdrawal responses during emotionally salient events. The capability approach confers a variety of advantages to the study of affective style and personality, and suggests new possibilities for the approach/withdrawal motivational model of frontal EEG asymmetry and emotion. Logical as well as empirical arguments supportive of this conclusion are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Emotion
  • Frontal EEG asymmetry
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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