Defensiveness, anxiety and the amplitude/intensity function of auditory-evoked potentials

John P. Kline, Gary E. Schwartz, Denis F. Fitzpatrick, Shelton E. Hendricks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study measured relationships between defensiveness, anxiety, and auditory-evoked potentials to tones of varied intensity. Subjects were designated as defensive if they scored ≥ 7 on the L-scale of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, and high-anxious if they scored ≥ 11 on the N-scale. Four groups resulted: 'high anxious', 'defensive high anxious', 'repressors' (i.e., defensive low anxious) and 'low anxious'. Evoked potentials were recorded from FZ, CZ, PZ, C3, C4, T3 and T4, referenced to linked ears in response to 74, 84, 94 and 104 dB SPL tones. High-defensive subjects showed lower P2 amplitudes to the 94 and 104 dB tones and lower amplitude/intensity slopes at FZ, CZ, C3 and C4. High-anxious subjects showed lower P2 amplitudes to all four stimul lus intensities at FZ, CZ and PZ. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that defensiveness is associated with desensitization to intense or painful stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1993


  • Anxiety
  • Augmenting-reducing
  • Defensiveness
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked potential
  • Eysenck personality questionnaire
  • Repression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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