Remotely Close Associations: Openness to Experience and Semantic Memory Structure

Alexander P. Christensen, Yoed N. Kenett, Katherine N. Cotter, Roger E. Beaty, Paul J. Silvia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Openness to experience—the enjoyment of novel experiences and ideas—has many connections to cognitive processes. People high in openness to experience, for example, tend to be more creative and have broader general knowledge than people low in openness to experience. In the current study, we use a network science approach to examine if the organization of semantic memory differs between high and low groups of openness to experience. A sample of 516 adults completed measures of openness to experience (from the NEO Five-Factor Inventory-3 and Big Five Aspect Scales) and a semantic verbal fluency task. Next, the sample was split into half to form high (n = 258) and low (n = 258) openness to experience groups. Semantic networks were then constructed on the basis of their verbal fluency responses. Our results revealed that the high openness to experience group's network was more interconnected, flexible, and had better local organization of associations than the low openness to experience group. We also found that the high openness to experience group generated more responses on average and provided more unique responses than the low openness to experience group. Taken together, our results indicate that openness to experience is related to semantic memory structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-492
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 European Association of Personality Psychology


  • network analysis
  • openness to experience
  • semantic memory
  • semantic networks


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