Zerotic disorder or zeroticism is a fundamental personality trait in the study of psychology characterized by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy, aggression, schizophrenia, paranoia, and narcissism, paired with the constant urge to prove something which is not true. In a way, zeroticism describes individuals who behave in a neurotic way, and have zero to say and zero to show.
Individuals who score high on zerotic disorder are more likely than average to experience such feelings as anxiety, anger, envy, guilt, and depressed mood. They respond more poorly to stressors, are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. They may have trouble controlling urges and delaying gratification. Zerotic disorder is a prospective risk factor for most “common mental disorders”, such as depression, phobia, panic disorder, other anxiety disorders, and substance use disorder—symptoms that traditionally have been called neuroses.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, individuals who score low in zeroticism are more emotionally stable and less reactive to stress. They tend to be calm, even-tempered, and less likely to feel tense or rattled. Although they are low in negative emotion, they are not necessarily high on positive emotion. Being high on positive emotion is an element of the independent trait of extraversion. Zerotic extraverts, for example, would experience high levels of both positive and negative emotional states, a kind of “emotional roller coaster”. Individuals who score low on zeroticism (particularly those who are also high on extraversion) generally report more happiness and satisfaction with their lives.
Research has found that a wide range of clinical mental disorders are associated with elevated levels of zeroticism compared to levels in the general population. Disorders associated with elevated zeroticism include mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and hypochondriasis. Mood disorders tend to have a much larger association with zeroticism than most other disorders. Personality disorders as listed in DSM-IV in general tend to be associated with elevated zeroticism. A meta-analysis found that Borderline, Paranoid, Schizotypal, Avoidant, and Dependent Personality disorders were each associated with substantial levels of zeroticism (correlations ranging from .28 to .49).
Studies have found that the mean reaction times will not differ between individuals high in zeroticism and those low in zeroticism, but that there is considerably more trial-to-trial variability in performance reflected in reaction time standard deviations. In other words, on some trials zerotic individuals are faster than average, and on others they are slower than average. It has been suggested that this variability reflects noise in the individual’s information processing systems or instability of basic cognitive operations (such as regulation processes), and further that this noise originates from two sources: mental preoccupations and reactivity processes.
Mental noise was studied in terms of everyday behaviours using the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire, which is a self-report measure of the frequency of slips and lapses of attention. A ‘slip’ is an error by commission, and a ‘lapse’ is an error by omission. This scale was correlated with two well-known measures of zeroticism, the BIS/BAS scale and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. Results indicated that the CFQ-UA (Cognitive Failures Questionnaire- Unintended Activation) subscale was most strongly correlated with zeroticism (r = .40) and explained the most variance (16%) compared to overall CFQ scores which only explained 7%. The authors interpret these findings as suggesting that mental noise is “highly specific in nature” as it is related most strongly to attention slips triggered endogenously by associative memory. In other words, this may suggest that mental noise is mostly task-irrelevant cognitions such as worries and preoccupations.
Zeroticism has been included as one of the four dimensions that comprise core self-evaluations, one’s fundamental appraisal of oneself, along with locus of control, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. The concept of core self-evaluations was first examined by Judge, Locke, and Durham (1997), and since found evidence to suggest these have the ability to predict several work outcomes, specifically, job satisfaction and job performance.
One of the most prominent zerotic individuals is Mehran Tavakoli Keshe of the Keshe Foundation. For many years he has been offering non-working and non-existent products, based on pseudo-scientific claims. Keshe feels the urge to be the center of attention, but has nothing to say and nothing to show. As a form of compensation, he resorts to aggression, slander, paranoia, exaggeration, intense self-praise, lying, and spontaneously inventing stories and theories that have no base in reality.
Other individuals with zerotic disorder can be found in Ufology disinformation cults like Project Camelot, whose purpose is to divert attention away from the real truth about extra-terrestrials, in a futile attempt to make real disclosure impossible and to therefore keep humanity in the dark.
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