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Personality Correlates To Electrophysiological Measures Of Prestimulus Response

Paula Kaur Singh

Ph.D. Dissertation, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, California, December 2009

For a PDF version of the complete paper, click here.

Abstract

This study assessed personality correlates to electrophysiological measures of prestimulus response (PSR). PSR is the body’s response to a future stimulus prior to experiencing the stimulus. PSR may be an approach to measuring an aspect of intuition. One-hundred candidates for the study completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Data were scored to generate raw points and to categorize each participant by 4 of 8 MBTI personality factors. Forty-two participants consisting of 21 people with the highest respective scores on the MBTI Intuition and Sensation scales were selected for inclusion in the study. Electrophysiological data were acquired during a PSR experiment utilizing a roulette simulation. The participants were connected to a Biopac MP150® data acquisition system to continuously acquire electrocardiogram (ECG) for heart rate variability (HRV) and skin conductance levels (SCL). In each of 26 trials, the participants made a simulated investment and chose either red or black as the future target. Once the electrophysiological data were acquired, the target was determined by a random number generator. For each participant, HRV and SCL were analyzed separately for win and loss trials for 3 segments of each trial—prebet, postbet, and postresults. Random permutation analysis was used to determine statistical significance of the differences for HRV and SCL respectively for win and loss trials. Stouffer Z scores were calculated for participants categorized to the 8 personality factors in order to determine which personality factors, if any, correlated with electrophysiological evidence of PSR. Participants categorized as Sensation on the MBTI demonstrated a significant HRV response to prestimulus information in the prebet segment (N = 19, Z = -1.83, p = .0333). SCL evidence of prestimulus response was not statistically significant. The results of this study may be applicable to areas of business, learning, overall well-being, creativity, medical diagnosis, healing, and spiritual growth.