Effects of emotion on perceptual asymmetry: Interactions with personality

Bruce E. Wexler, Gary Schwartz, Stephen Warrenburg, Mark Servis, Irene Tarlatzis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Perceptual asymmetry on a series of four specially constructed dichotic word tests was found to change as a function of the emotional quality of the words in the tests (P=0.05). This was most pronounced in the case of positively valued words which produced an increase in asymmetry consistent with facilitated left-hemisphere function (P<0.004). Changes in asymmetry with emotion differed as a function of personality characteristics of the subjects, with repressors and high anxious subjects showing an increase with emotion while true low anxious subjects showed a decrease (P<0.02). Personality groups also differed in asymmetry on an emotionally neutral test (P<0.04) and in changes in asymmetry over time independent of emotion (P<0.001). These data suggest that emotion mediated activation of the left hemisphere may facilitate information processing within that hemisphere. Moreover, they indicate that dichotic listening tests may provide a non-invasive and inexpensive method for assessing emotion mediated changes in brain state that are clinically relevant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-710
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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