Impulsivity is Important

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					       Impulsivity is Important
• Involved in every major system of personality
• Vital role in the understanding & diagnosis of
       - DSM IV – “impulse control disorders”
       - Criteria for BPD, ASPD, ADHD etc
• Involved in “etiologic” theories of psychopathy,
    crime and substance use
It is so important…yet within psychology there is a
    huge variety of different, inconsistent
Personality theories that
  include Impulsivity
Eysenck and Eysenck’s N, E, P
Impulsivity is sub divided into:
    1.Narrow impulsiveness (N, P)
    2.Risk taking (E)
    3.non-planning (E)
    4.liveliness (E)
Propose that 2 components,
  Venturesomeness (E) and impulsivity (P)
      Buss and Plomin (1975)
• Impulsivity, part of their 4 factor model of
  – Inhibitory control*
  – Consideration of alternatives/consequences
  – Ignore competing temptations
  – Tendency to become bored, novelty seeking
  These temperaments do influence behaviour
      Zuckerman & co (1991)
• alternative 5 factor model of personality
  including “impulsive sensation seeking”
   - similar to NEO (C) and EPQ (P)
      Cloninger “psychological
     underpinning of behaviour”
• 4 temperament scales, one being Novelty
  Seeking (contains impulsivity).
• seen more as pre-conceptual automatic
 Tellegen’s 3 high order factors
determines the manner and intensity people
   respond to emotional stimuli.

1. + Emotionality
2. - Emotionality
3. Constraint (control vs. impulsiveness
Previous theories of
             Barratt & Co.
Impulsivity – 3 factors
1. Attentional impulsivity*
2. Motor impulsivity*
3. Non-planning
               Newman & Co.
Gray's neuropsychological model + Eysenck's system of
    personality = 3 pathways of impulsivity

1.   Normal impulsivity : BAS>BIS x NSA – neurotic
     extrovert pattern
2.   Anxious impulsivity : BAS<BIS x NSA – neurotic
     introvert pattern
3.   “P constraint” – psychopaths response to competing
     reward and punishment
    Dickman (1990) 2-D theory of
Information processing approach to
  impulsivity which has + & - consequences
1.Functional (enthusiasm, adventuresome…)
2.Dysfunctional (disorderliness, ignoring facts…)
                This Study…
aims to understand the construct of impulsivity by
  analysing, within the framework of a well-validated
  personality model, a variety of commonly used
  impulsive measures.
5 factor Model framework, facets capture some
Neuroticism: Self control
Conscientiousness: Self discipline, deliberation
Extraversion: Excitement seeking
•   Participants: 437 undergraduates

•   Measures:
•   Items were adapted to a four-point Likert-type format ranging from one to

•   They used a variety of commonly used impulsivity measures:

1) EASI-III Impulsivity Scales
• self-report measure designed by Buss and Plomin to reflect their four
    temperament theory of personality.
• Only used items on four impulsivity subscales (inhibitory control, decision
    time, sensation seeking, and persistence subscales).

2) Dickman's Functional and Dysfunctional Impulsivity Scales
• two dimensional conception of impulsivity.
• functional impulsivity (e.g. Most of the time I can put my thoughts into words
   very rapidly)
• dysfunctional impulsivity (e.g. Often I don't spend enough time thinking over
   a situation before I act).
3) Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11)
   It is made up of three subscales:
• attentional impulsiveness (e.g. I get easily bored when solving
   thought problems)
• motor impulsiveness (e.g. I do things without thinking)
• non-planning impulsiveness (e.g. I am more interested in the
   present than the future).

4) I-7 Impulsiveness Questionnaire (I-7)

5) Personality Research Form Impulsivity Scale (PRF)

6) Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Control Scale (MPQ)

7) Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI)
• self-report inventory based on Cloninger's psychobiological model of
• Included only the eight- item novelty seeking subscale of
   impulsiveness vs reflection (e.g. I often react so strongly to
   unexpected news that I say or do things that I regret)
8) Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS)
• Disinhibition boredom susceptibility

9) Additional ``impulsiveness'' items
• Pilot work suggested that items dealing with the ``impulsiveness''
   aspect (e.g., strong cravings) of impulsivity were missing.
• fourteen additional items were created
• Examples: ``When I feel bad I will often do things I later regret in
  order to make myself feel better now'', ``I only act rashly when I am
  upset'', and ``It is hard for me to resist acting on my feelings''.

10) Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R)
• neuroticism,
• extraversion,
• conscientiousness.
Identified 4 meanings of impulsivity:

1) (lack of) Premeditation
• was captured in scales that assess the tendency to delay action in
    favor of careful thinking and planning.

2) Urgency
• a tendency to commit rash or regrettable actions as a result of
   intense negative affect.
• The scales reflecting this factor include items related to an inability
   to resist cravings, binging, and acting rashly while upset.

3) Sensation Seeking
• was comprised of scales measuring the tendency to seek
   excitement and adventure.

4) (lack of) Perseverance.
• includes scales that assess one's ability to remain with a task until
    completion and avoid boredom.
• Following the initial factor identification, scales to measure
  each of the personality facets were created and combined to
  form the UPPS Impulsive Behavior scale.

• This had 45 items measuring the four factors.

• Each factor had 10-12 items.
 Relation between impulsivity scales
           and NEO facets
• Explored through a joint factor analysis.
• A three-factor solution accounted for 59% of the variation in
  the scales.

• The factor structure clearly mapped onto the structure of the
  three domains of the NEO-PI-R:

• Factor 1 was comprised of (lack of) premeditation, (lack of)
  perseverance, and all six facets of conscientiousness.

• Factor 2 was comprised of sensation seeking and all six
  facets of extraversion.

• Factor 3 was comprised of urgency and all six facets of
            Main Conclusions
• Factor analysis revealed a robust four factor
  solution corresponding to the four traits related
  to impulsivity on the NEO-PI.

• Impulsivity is made up of four distinct personality

• These are not variations of impulsivity, but
  distinct psychological processes that lead to
  impulsive behaviors.
   The four facets of impulsivity
• Urgency- experience strong impulses under
  conditions of negative affect.

• (lack of) Premeditation- act on the spur of the

• (lack of) Perseverance- difficulty staying
  focused on tasks that are ‘boring’ or ‘difficult’.

• Sensation Seeking- enjoy and pursue risky and
  exciting experiences.
 How does this relate to the FFM?

• Urgency linked to Neuroticism

• (lack of) Premeditation and (lack of)
  Perseverance linked to Conscientiousness

• Sensation Seeking linked to Extraversion
 Possible links to psychopathology
• Urgency- BPD, bulimia.

• (lack of) Premeditation- antisocial personality
  disorder, dementia, psychopathy.

• (lack of) Perseverance- ADHD.

• Sensation Seeking- substance use disorders.
• Impulsivity is an ‘artificial umbrella term’.

• It actually encompasses 4 distinct facets of
  personality associated with impulsive

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