Neuroticism predicts reactions to cues of social inclusion

J.J.A. Denissen, L. Penke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the current paper, we hypothesized that people who are high in neuroticism (N) share a motivational predisposition to react vigilantly to threatening cues, most of which tend to be social in humans. In three studies, support for this prediction was found: based on cross-sectional and diary data, it was found that the self-esteem (SE) of individuals high in N decreases more in response to perceptions of relationship conflict and low relationship quality than that of emotionally stable ones. In a study of people's reactions to imagined threats, neurotic individuals showed a heightened sensitivity to both nonsocial and social cues, though reactions to social cues were somewhat more pronounced. Results are consistent with principles from evolutionary and process-oriented personality psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-517
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Close relationships
  • Neuroticism
  • Self-esteem
  • Social inclusion
  • Sociometer theory


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