Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Research on hemispheric specialization has generated theories of lateralized cognition, personality traits, and emotional experience and expression. Of these the research on lateralized cognition has provided the most reliable and interpretable results. Using the lateralized cognitive attributes as a guideline, a personality model of hemispheric activation is hypothesized which suggests that each hemisphere provides a distinctive overall approach to information gathering, cognitive processing, emotional experience and behavioral expression. This model predicts that detai1-oriented perception, rumination, and analytic processing are the domain of the left hemisphere, while a more spatial perceptual approach and holistic cognitive processing are the domain of the right hemisphere. Interestingly, these lateralized cognitive and personality styles appear quite similar to two of the neurotic styles observed and described by Shapiro (1965)--the obsessive-compulsive and the hysteri neurotic styles. The similarities and further implications between these models are discussed with reference to recent empirical support for such a correlary (Smokier & Snevrin 1979).

In order to investigate the validity of the personality model of hemispheric activation and its possible relationship to clinically observed neurotic styles, a wide variety of personality and cognitive variables were collected across thirty-three undergraduate students. Simple and complex statistical analyses were performed comparing the variables to an index of hemispheric activation, lateral eye movement. Although the results from the simple analyses are minimal, the complex analyses reveal a lateralized personality/cognitive factor that is loaded in a way consistent with the hypothesized model.

Caution is suggested in interpreting the results since the number of variables manipulated outnumber the number of subjects in the experiment. Suggestions for further research are offered. The ramifications and utility of such a model in the conceptualization of diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems are explored.