Although externalizing psychopathology has been linked to deficits in cognitive control, the cognitive processes underlying this association are unclear. Here, we provide a theoretical account of how research on cognitive processes can help to integrate and distinguish personality and psychopathology. We then apply this account to connect the two major subcomponents of externalizing, Antagonism and Disinhibition, with specific control processes using a battery of inhibitory control tasks and corresponding computational modeling. Participants (final N = 104) completed the flanker, go/no-go, and recent probes tasks, as well as normal and maladaptive personality inventories and measures of psychological distress. We fit participants' task behavior using a hierarchical drift diffusion model (DDM) to decompose their responses into specific cognitive processes. Using multilevel structural equation models, we found that Antagonism was associated with faster RTs on the flanker task and lower accuracy on flanker and go/no-go tasks. These results were complemented by DDM parameter associations: Antagonism was linked to decreased threshold and drift rate parameter estimates in the flanker task and a decreased drift rate on no-go trials. Altogether, our findings indicate that Antagonism is associated with specific impairments in fast (sub-second) inhibitory control processes involved in withholding prepared/prepotent responses and filtering distracting information. Disinhibition and momentary distress, however, were not associated with task performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology