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Over and over again: Changes in frontal EEG asymmetry across a boring task

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Abstract

Boredom is an aversive emotional state. People high in trait boredom are less able to effectively cope with and resolve boredom than people low in trait boredom. Trait boredom is characterized by proneness and susceptibility, which are associated with avoidance and approach behavioral dispositions, respectively. Baseline frontal EEG asymmetry (FEA) has been treated as a trait level neural correlate of approach and avoidance motivational styles. Online processes by which people effectively cope with and resolve state boredom may involve an approach motivation to create stimulation. Evidence indicates that FEA reflects an active approach or avoidance motivation. This study tested the prediction that proneness and susceptibility would be related to relative less and greater left frontal activity during baseline, respectively, and lower levels of trait boredom would be associated with a leftward shift frontal activity as situationally induced boredom ensued. Young adults (N = 54) completed trait boredom scales, baseline EEG, and a boring task. Results showed that people low in trait boredom exhibited a leftward shift in frontal activity over the course of the boring task. No relations between trait boredom and baseline FEA were observed. The results are consistent with the possibility that approach motivation is involved in coping with and resolving boredom. FEA has been characterized at trait and state levels. Our results provide a new view of FEA as a signature of dynamic online emotion regulatory processes. The implications from linking boredom and FEA for understanding the mechanisms of boredom resolution and meaning of FEA are discussed.

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... The corrected EEG was confirmed via visual inspection. Missing electrodes were interpolated, and the EEG was referenced to the average of all electrodes and divided into 1 s epochs with 75% overlap which is within the range typically used in the literature (Cohen, 2014;Luck, 2014; for examples, see Black et al., 2014;Park et al., 2021;Perone et al., 2019). Epochs containing 1 or more electrodes with voltage exceeding 150 microvolts for more than 100 ms were marked for rejection. ...
... A contribution of this study is it applied CPM to resting EEG under eyes closed and eyes open conditions. These conditions are associated with distinct topographies and levels of EEG power, which may be due in part to the need to maintain attention on a visual stimulus during the eyes open condition (Barry et al., 2007;Perone et al., 2019; for a review, see Anderson & Perone, 2018). Consistent with this hypothesis, lower levels of the theta / beta ratio have been observed during eyes open relative to eyes closed (Perone et al., 2019), which is a neural correlate of engaged attention (van Son et al., 2019). ...
... These conditions are associated with distinct topographies and levels of EEG power, which may be due in part to the need to maintain attention on a visual stimulus during the eyes open condition (Barry et al., 2007;Perone et al., 2019; for a review, see Anderson & Perone, 2018). Consistent with this hypothesis, lower levels of the theta / beta ratio have been observed during eyes open relative to eyes closed (Perone et al., 2019), which is a neural correlate of engaged attention (van Son et al., 2019). The pattern of results observed herein is also consistent with this hypothesis. ...
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... People high in boredom proneness are more likely to experience dysregulation, such as anxiety and depression, and are more sensitive to punishment [8]. Perone et al. [17] found people who vary in boredom proneness engage different styles of self-regulation when they experience boredom. They used electroencephalography (EEG) to obtain neural signatures of self-regulation during a repetitive task designed to induce boredom. ...
... Although boredom and emotion regulation are clearly connected in empirical research [8], the question remains of what this association looks like in unique circumstances, such as early in the COVID-19 pandemic at the height of restrictions. Prior studies have shown people low in boredom proneness are able to effectively adapt their response when completing tasks designed to induce boredom, an indicator of effective emotion regulation [17]. We hypothesize individuals who are less able to effectively cope with or apply strategies to resolve negative emotions, such as boredom, would experience boredom more frequently. ...
... If a more satisfying activity is identified, boredom is mitigated. Prior studies have shown emotion regulatory styles, such as sensitivity to punishment, relate to boredom proneness [8] and lower levels of boredom proneness relate to a more adaptive physiological response during a lab task designed to induce boredom [17]. An important contribution of the current study is it shows people who felt they were experiencing more emotion regulation difficulties early in the pandemic also report higher levels of boredom proneness. ...
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COVID-19 related restrictions resulted in a significant lifestyle change for many young adults in the United States. Although boredom and emotional self-regulation are clearly connected in empirical research, the question remains of what this association looks like in unique circumstances, such as early in COVID-19 pandemic at the height of restrictions. The purpose of the current study is to identify the association between boredom proneness and emotion regulation in college students during the COVID-19 pandemic. College students who completed a Boredom Coping Survey between October and December 2019 (n = 481) were recruited for a follow-up COVID-19 Boredom Survey in April 2020. Data from this sub-sample (n = 58) were used in a hierarchical regression predicting the role of boredom proneness on COVID-19 pandemic emotion regulation difficulties while controlling for age, sex, and COVID-19 related lifestyle changes. Findings indicated higher levels of emotion regulation difficulties were associated with higher levels of boredom proneness above and beyond demographic variables and COVID-19 lifestyle changes. Results are in line with prior theory and research on the importance of the environment or situational factors to the experience of boredom.
... FAA dynamics have been studied as it relates to boredom as well. Perone et al. (2019) probed FAA over the course of a mundane task during which participants were asked to repeatedly turn a peg for several minutes (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959;Markey et al., 2014). They found people who reported experiencing more boredom in their daily life exhibited a rightward shift in frontal alpha activity over the course of the task. ...
... The proportion of epochs FFT was performed on for the optimal condition was 92.69 (SD = 7.46) and for the easy condition was 93.11 (SD = 8.19). FAA was computed by subtracting the natural log of average absolute alpha (8-13 Hz) at F3 from the same activity at F4, which are the sites FAA is traditionally measured from and most robustly related to measures of boredom in prior research (Perone et al., 2019). We also computed FAA at clusters of sites surrounding F3 and F4 by subtracting the natural log of absolute alpha at a set of left frontal sites surrounding and including F3 (19, 20, 23, 24, 27, 28) from the same activity at the right frontal sites surrounding and including F4 (3, 4, 117, 118, 123, 124). ...
... The current study and prior neurophysiological investigations of state boredom have reported no relations between self-report measures of peoples' subjective experience and neural correlates of regulatory or decision-making processes (Milyavskaya et al., 2019;Perone et al., 2019). This may be attributable to the self-report measures used, neural measures used, or a combination. ...
Article
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... Electroencephalography and neuroimaging to investigate boredom. Some studies have investigated the neural signature of boredom with EEG; for example, Perone et al. (2019) found that low levels of trait boredom were associated with a leftward shift in frontal activity during boredom induction. The authors interpret this finding as evidence of active regulatory processes that emerge in low boredom-prone individuals during a boring task. ...
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... The original scale used a forced choice format to measure boredom susceptibility, which has poor internal consistency (α = 0.38-0.65) [21][22][23]. For this reason, we adapted the scale for participants to rate the original statements from the Boredom Susceptibility Scale on a 6-point scale ranging from (1) strongly disagree to (6) strongly agree. ...
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... since frustration and boredom lead to diminished concentration and, consequently, poor performance (Perone et al., 2019). Flow is often linked with the experience of losing the sense of time and of the self (Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi, 1992;Wittmann, 2015Wittmann, , 2018Rutrecht et al., 2021). ...
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... By contrast, increased alpha power over right frontal regions indicates negative affect, inhibition, but also vigilance and exploration (Coan & Allen, 2004). As a result, researchers have just recently started to explore the possibility that frontal alpha asymmetry indexes boredom and found that boring tasks shift the asymmetry rightward and that people high in trait boredom also have their baseline asymmetry shifted rightward (Perone et al., 2019;Perone et al., 2021). Given that alpha asymmetry measures motivational processes and not arousal, it is likely that these results reflect changes in the meaning component of the MAC model of boredom. ...
Article
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... Thus, the experience of boredom is fluid, changing as an experience becomes more or less enjoyable, engaging, or stimulating, and as a result of other individual and situational factors such as others' engagement with, or perceptions about, the activity (Larson & Richards, 1991). Prior studies from laboratory and realworld settings have demonstrated how interactions between situational and personality factors might fluctuate between momentary and trait boredom (Mercer-Lynn et al., 2014;Perone et al., 2019;Weybright et al., 2015). ...
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... The problem is that chronic exposure to boredom is more damaging to well-being than once believed. Findings from neuroscience have demonstrated that in conditions of boredom when one has to maintain high levels of alertness, the brain reacts almost identically to how it responds to threat, activating the amygdala to release the very stress hormones that prompt the survival response of fight or flight (Arnsten et al., 2012;Perone et al., 2019;Thackray, 1981). Putting children and young people in situations of chronically low stimulation and affective and cognitive disengagement is, neuronally and hormonally speaking, equivalent to placing them in situations of stress. ...
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The present article provides a theoretical viewpoint on several aspects in frontal asymmetry research. Based on a brief overview of evidence related to an approach-avoidance perspective and the relation to BIS-BAS models on frontal asymmetry I propose that intentionality is valuable to understanding frontal asymmetry. In particular, I argue that defining arguments and previous experimental research often focused on a phase of human action that may be denoted as a volitional phase, which is linked to intentions. Further, I argue that intentions are accompanied by an affective-motivational component that I denote as the strength of an intention. Finally, I suggest that the lack of this kind of intentional strength might be an interesting concept in trying to explain certain subtypes of depression.
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Previous studies have shown that reappraisal (changing the way that one thinks about emotional events) is an effective strategy for regulating emotion, compared with suppression (reducing emotion-expressive behavior). In the present study, we investigated relative left frontal activity when participants were instructed to use reappraisal and suppression of negative emotion, by measuring frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA). Two electroencephalography (EEG) experiments were conducted; FAA was analyzed while 102 healthy participants (59 men, 43 women) watched negative images after being instructed to perform reappraisal (Experiment 1) and suppression (Experiment 2). Habitual use of reappraisal and suppression was also assessed using the emotion regulation questionnaire (ERQ). The results of Experiment 1 showed that relative left frontal activity was greater when instructed to use reappraisal of negative images than when normally viewing negative images. In contrast, we observed no difference between conditions of instructed suppression and normal viewing in Experiment 2. In addition, in male participants, habitual use of reappraisal was positively correlated with increased relative left frontal activity for instructed reappraisal, while habitual use of suppression did not show a significant correlation with changes in relative left frontal activity for instructed suppression. These results suggest that emotional responses to negative images might be decreased for instructed reappraisal, but not suppression. These findings support previous reports that reappraisal is an effective emotion regulation strategy, compared with suppression.
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The use of current source density (CSD), the Laplacian of the scalp surface voltage, to map the electrical activity of the brain is a powerful method in studies of cognitive and affective phenomena. During the last few decades, mapping of CSD has been successfully applied to characterize several neuropsychiatric conditions such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, childhood/developmental disorders, and neurological conditions (i.e., epilepsy and brain lesions) using electrophysiological data from resting state and during cognitive performance. The use of CSD and Laplacian measures has proven effective in elucidating topographic and activation differences between groups: i) patients with a specific diagnosis vs. healthy controls, ii) subjects at high risk for a specific diagnosis vs. low risk or normal controls, and iii) patients with specific symptom(s) vs. patients without these symptom(s). The present review outlines and summarizes the studies that have employed CSD measures in investigating several neuropsychiatric conditions. The advantages and potential of CSD-based methods in clinical and research applications along with some of the limitations inherent in the CSD-based methods are discussed in the review, as well as future directions to expand the implementation of CSD to other potential clinical applications. As CSD methods have proved to be more advantageous than using scalp potential data to understand topographic and source activations, its clinical applications offer promising potential, not only for a better understanding of a range of psychiatric conditions, but also for a variety of focal neurological disorders, including epilepsy and other conditions involving brain lesions and surgical interventions.
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Some theories emphasize the role of the situation, some emphasize the role of the person, and some emphasize the interaction between situation and person in causing boredom. The present study examines these models by determining whether boredom propensity (person) and/or experimental condition (situation) independently or in interaction affected state boredom. The study also examined the relative contribution of behavioural activation and inhibition to state boredom. Boredom propensity and condition significantly and independently predicted state boredom, as did the interaction between behavioural inhibition and condition. Implications are discussed, including the possibility of two distinct causes of boredom.
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A variety of causes of boredom have been proposed including environmental, motivational, emotional, and cognitive factors. Here, we explore four potential cognitive causes of boredom: inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and executive dysfunction. Specifically, we examine the unique and common associations between these factors and boredom propensity. Recent research has established that the two most commonly used measures of boredom propensity (BPS and BSS) are not measuring the same underlying construct. Thus, a second goal of the present project is to determine the unique and common roles of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity and poor executive system functioning in predicting the BPS and BSS specifically. The findings reveal that inattention, hyperactivity and executive dysfunction predict boredom propensity, with shared variance accounting for the greater part of this effect. Further, executive dysfunction and hyperactivity uniquely predict boredom propensity as measured by the BPS and BSS, respectively.
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The impact of personality on leisure behaviour and experience has been ignored in psychological research. Where personality research on leisure has been reported it is usually highly simplistic using outmoded trait approaches. It is argued that personality constructs have a role in leisure theory if they are conceptualized as the person variable in the interactionism model, that is, used in conjunction with information about the social situation to predict and explain behaviour. As well as identifying several existing personality constructs that are relevant to understanding leisure behaviour, it is suggested that theorists and researchers could benefit from developing «leisure-specific» personality constructs that reflect significant individual differences in response to free time and leisure situations. As an illustration, the author's Self-As-Entertainment personality construct is outlined and data reported providing a preliminary assessment of its reliability and validity.
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Existential theory and previous qualitative research have suggested that a lack of life meaning and purpose causes boredom, as well as other types of negative affect such as depression or anxiety. Although these variables have been shown to be correlated at one point in time, the relationships among these constructs have not been investigated using a controlled, quantitative research design. In Study 1 a (N = 131), boredom was shown to be related to, yet psychometrically distinct from, life meaning, depression, and anxiety. In Study 1b (N = 88), life meaning significantly predicted changes in boredom across time while depression and anxiety did not. In addition, boredom was a significant predictor of changes in life meaning across time, while depression and anxiety were not. Finally, in Study 2 (N = 102), manipulating perceptions of life meaning significantly changed boredom, while a manipulation of mood did not. The nature of the relationship between life meaning and boredom, as well as some clinical implications, are discussed.
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Mitigating the situational factors that give rise to state boredom is a consistent challenge facing educators. Despite the growing amount of literature devoted to the construct, the field has yet to arrive at a consensus regarding a clear theoretical or operational definition. Subsequently, inconsistencies exist in the assessment methodologies, research findings lack generalizability, and strategies for mitigation in educational settings remain elusive. In this cross-disciplinary analysis, the extant literature on state boredom is critically reviewed and synthesized, and a two-dimensional definition of state boredom as an unpleasant (subjective), low-arousal (objective) experience is proposed. Findings from the technological advances of the last decade that allow for the objective measurement of physiological states are used to inform recommendations for empirically sound assessment methodologies. Finally, the proposed definition of state boredom and related assessment strategies are discussed with respect to implications for enhancing educational practices. Emotions are of critical importance for cognitive development and optimal learning (Linnenbrink-Garcia and Pekrun 2011; Schultz and Pekrun 2007). However, not all emotions are equally relevant to academic achievement. In fact, research has suggested that "basic" emotions (anger, sadness, fear, disgust, happiness, and surprise; Ekman 1992) are rarely experienced during learning sessions (Craig et al. 2008; Lehman et al. 2008a, b). Consequently, researchers have recently begun to distinguish between "basic" and "academic" emotions (Pekrun 2011). Academic emotions refer specifically to those that
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Fashion change agents and fashion followers differ in their need for mental stimulation. Within a context of fashion diffusion theory, this study examined the effects of locus of control and fashion consumer group on three attributes linked to mental stimulation – boredom proneness, intrinsic enjoyment, and boredom coping. For this US sample of young women, an internal locus of control orientation was associated with a higher level of fashion innovativeness and opinion leadership. Fashion change agents, with either an internal or external locus of control orientation, and fashion followers with an external locus of control orientation, were similar in their heightened ability to entertain themselves (internal stimulation). Fashion followers with an external locus of control orientation were less able to entertain themselves than the other three groups.
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Four-month-old infants were screened (N = 433) for temperamental patterns thought to predict behavioral inhibition, including motor reactivity and the expression of negative affect. Those selected (N = 153) were assessed at multiple age points across the first 4 years of life for behavioral signs of inhibition as well as psychophysiological markers of frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry. Four-month temperament was modestly predictive of behavioral inhibition over the first 2 years of life and of behavioral reticence at age 4. Those infants who remained continuously inhibited displayed right frontal EEG asymmetry as early as 9 months of age while those who changed from inhibited to noninhibited did not. Change in behavioral inhibition was related to experience of nonparental care. A second group of infants, selected at 4 months of age for patterns of behavior thought to predict temperamental exuberance, displayed a high degree of continuity over time in these behaviors.
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This article describes the development and validation of the Multidimensional State Boredom Scale (MSBS)-the first and only full-scale measure of state boredom. It was developed based on a theoretically and empirically grounded definition of boredom. A five-factor structure of the scale (Disengagement, High Arousal, Low Arousal, Inattention, and Time Perception) was supported by exploratory factor analyses and confirmatory factor analyses of two independent samples. Furthermore, all subscales were significantly related to a single, second-order factor. The MSBS factor structure was shown to be invariant across gender. MSBS scores were significantly correlated with measures of trait boredom, depression, anxiety, anger, inattention, impulsivity, neuroticism, life satisfaction, and purpose in life. Finally, MSBS scores distinguished between participants who were experimentally manipulated into a state of boredom and those who were not, above and beyond measures of trait boredom, negative affect, and depression.
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People who feel bored experience that their current situation is meaningless and are motivated to reestablish a sense of meaningfulness. Building on the literature that conceptualizes social identification as source of meaningfulness, the authors tested the hypothesis that boredom increases the valuation of ingroups and devaluation of outgroups. Indeed, state boredom increased the liking of an ingroup name (Study 1), it increased hypothetical jail sentences given to an outgroup offender (Study 2 and Study 3), especially in comparison to an ingroup offender (Study 3), it increased positive evaluations of participants' ingroups, especially when ingroups were not the most favored ones to begin with (Study 4), and it increased the appreciation of an ingroup symbol, mediated by people's need to engage in meaningful behavior (Study 5). Several measures ruled out that these results could be explained by other affective states. These novel findings are discussed with respect to boredom, social identity, and existential psychology research.
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There are two commonly used measures of boredom: the Boredom Proneness Scale (BPS) and the Boredom Susceptibility Scale (ZBS). Although both were designed to measure the propensity to experience boredom (i.e., trait boredom), there are reasons to think they may not measure the same construct. The present research sought to evaluate this proposition in several stages. Specifically, relationships between the BPS, ZBS, and important causal (Study 1, N = 837), correlational (Study 2, N = 233), and outcome variables (Study 3, N = 137) were examined in university students. Taken together, results support the notion that the BPS and ZBS do not measure the same construct. Specifically, higher BPS scores were associated with higher levels of neuroticism, experiential avoidance, attentional and nonplanning impulsivity, anxiety, depression, dysphoria, and emotional eating. Conversely, higher ZBS scores were associated with higher levels of motor impulsivity, sensitivity to reward, gambling, and alcohol use and lower levels of neuroticism, experiential avoidance, and sensitivity to punishment.
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Distribution of Lednice (Yaba 1) virus antigen (LVA) was followed by immunofluorescene (IF) in chick embryos inoculated into the yolk sacs. Positive fluorescence of LVA was observed in neurons and neuroblasts of the developing brain, spinal cord and spinal ganglia as well as in skeletal muscles, heart muscle, vascular endothelium and lung mesenchyma. In the yolk sac, foci of specific fluorescence were occasionally seen in endothelium cells of vessels and in islands of extraembryonic haematopoesis. At sites corresponding to the occurrence of LVA, extensive oedema was accompanied by extravazation of erythrocytes and accumulation of white blood cells. The nature of tissues in which the virus replicates was discussed from the point of view of LVA distribution and the morphological lesions observed.
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This article assessed whether resting electroencephalographic (EEG) asymmetry in anterior regions of the brain can predict affective responses to emotion elicitors. Baseline EEG was recorded from 32 female adults, after which Ss viewed film clips preselected to elicit positive or negative affect. Resting alpha power asymmetry in the frontal region significantly predicted self-reported global negative affect in response to clips and predicted the difference between global positive and negative affect. Analyses of discrete emotions revealed a strong relation between frontal asymmetry and fear responses to films. Effects were independent of Ss mood ratings at the time at which baseline EEG was measured. Resting anterior asymmetry may be a state-independent index of the individual's predisposition to respond affectively.
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The human experience of boredom is studied in relation to arousal, constraint, subjective repetitiveness, and unpleasantness. Intense boredom induced by a simple repetitive task is found to be associated with decreased arousal and increased constraint, repetitiveness, and unpleasantness. In an attempt to synthesize boredom, induction of each independent variable by means of post-hypnotic cues indicates significant effects for arousal and constraint but not for repetitiveness and unpleasantness. No single variable is found necessary for boredom although the evidence suggests that normally all 4 factors are present. Implications of findings for current boredom theories are discussed. (33 ref.)
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Tested the hypothesis that the greater the inducement offered for performing a counterattitudinal task, the greater the dissonance-if the individuals choose not to comply with the attitude-discrepant request. If was predicted that dissonance aroused by noncompliance would be reduced by a strengthening of the original attitude. 20 undergraduates were offered either a high or a low incentive ($1.50 or $.50) for writing an essay advocating the use of codes of dress in secondary schools. The situation was devised in such a way that all Ss chose not to write the essay. Results of an attitude questionnaire indicate that high incentive Ss became more strongly opposed to dress code regulations than either the low incentive group or a control group (n = 10).
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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.