The current study examined how impulsivity-related traits (negative urgency, sensation seeking, and positive urgency), behavioral measures of risk taking and reward seeking, and physiological reactivity related to three different risky sexual behaviors in sexually active undergraduate men (N = 135). Regression analyses indicated that sensation seeking and behavioral risk-taking predicted unique variance in number of sexual partners. These findings suggest that, for young men, acquisition of new partners is associated with need for excitement and reward and willingness to take risks to meet those needs. Sensation seeking, behavioral risk-taking, and skin conductance reactivity to arousing stimuli was related to ever having engaged in sex with a stranger, indicating that, for men, willingness to have sex with a stranger is related not only to the need for excitement and risk-taking but also with innate responsiveness to arousing environmental triggers. In contrast, regression analyses indicated that young men who were impulsive in the context of negative emotions were less likely to use condoms, suggesting that emotion-based impulsivity may be an important factor in negligent prophylactic use. This study adds to the current understanding of the divergence between the correlates of risky sexual behaviors and may lend utility to the development of individualized HIV prevention programming.
Risky sex; condom use; psychophysiology; sensation seeking; negative urgency
Adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at higher risk to use substances than their nonclinical peers. Increased levels of impulsivity are generally thought to contribute to their increased levels of risk. Impulsivity is a multifaceted construct, however, and little research to date has attempted to identify which facets of impulsivity contribute to the increased rates of substance abuse among individuals with ADHD. The current study examined the relation among ADHD symptom clusters (i.e., hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention), substance use rates (i.e., alcohol use, nicotine use, and marijuana use), and personality processes associated with impulsive behavior in a group of young adults. Participants were 361 undergraduate students. Both symptom clusters were positively associated with rates of substance use. Specifically, hyperactive/impulsive symptoms were associated with alcohol and nicotine use, and inattentive symptoms were associated with alcohol use. Several pathways from hyperactive/impulsive symptoms to alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana use via specific facets of impulsivity were identified. These findings have implications for understanding the relation between ADHD symptoms and substance use, as well as clinical implications for preventing and treating substance use problems in individuals with symptoms of ADHD.
ADHD; impulsivity; alcohol; nicotine; marijuana
With data from the middle cohort of the Pittsburgh Youth Study, a prospective longitudinal study of inner-city boys, we examined whether Big Five agreeableness facets could be reliably recovered in this sample, and whether facets predicted educational, occupational, social, and antisocial life outcomes assessed a decade later. Caregivers described their adolescent boys’ personalities using the Common California Q-Set; twelve years later, participants were interviewed and court records were obtained. Factor analyses recovered two facets: compliance and compassion. Compliance predicted more schooling and lower risk of unemployment, teenage fatherhood, and crime; compassion related to longer committed relationships. Findings highlight the value of studying personality at the facet level.
Agreeableness; Big Five personality; Personality Facets; Inner-City Youth; Prospective Longitudinal Study
The transition from adolescence into emerging adulthood is a critical developmental period for changes in alcohol use and drinking related problems. Prior research has identified a number of distinct developmental alcohol use trajectories, which appear to be differentially related to young adult drinking outcomes. Another correlate of alcohol use in early adulthood is impulsivity. The primary aim of this study was to examine the moderating role of impulsivity in the relation between patterns of past alcohol use and hazardous drinking during the first year of college. Participants (N=452; 49% male; mean age 18.5 years; 82% Caucasian) completed self-report measures during the first year of college, including retrospective alcohol use calendars, current alcohol use and drinking problems, and personality. Group-based trajectory modeling was used to identify groups with similar adolescent drinking history from retrospective, self-report. Four groups were identified: abstainers/very light users, late/moderate users, early/moderate users, and steep increase/heavy users. The abstainer/very light user group reported the lowest levels of alcohol use and problematic drinking in college; the steep increase/heavy use group reported the highest levels of alcohol use and problematic drinking. As predicted, the role of personality—specifically urgency, or emotion-based rash action—was strongest among moderate use groups. These findings may be helpful in guiding targeted prevention and intervention programs for alcohol use and abuse.
alcohol; impulsivity; urgency; college students; drinking trajectories
High sensation seeking is associated with strong approach behaviors and weak avoidance responses. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to further characterize the neurobiological underpinnings of this behavioral profile using a Go/No-go task. Analysis of brain activation associated with response inhibition (No-go) versus response initiation and execution (Go) revealed the commonly reported right lateral prefrontal, insula, cingulate, and supplementary motor area network. However, right lateral activation was associated with greater No-go than Go responses only in low sensation seekers. High sensation seekers showed no differential activation in these regions but a more pronounced Go compared to No-go response in several other regions that are involved in salience detection (insula), motor initiation (anterior cingulate) and attention (inferior parietal cortex). Temporal analysis of the hemodynamic response for Go and No-go conditions revealed that the stronger response to Go than No-go trials in high sensation seekers occurred in in the earliest time window in the right middle frontal gyrus, right mid-cingulate and right precuneus. In contrast, the greater No-go than Go response in low sensation seekers occurred in the later time window in these same regions. These findings indicate that high sensation seekers more strongly attend to or process Go trials and show delayed or minimal inhibitory responses on No-go trials in regions that low sensation seekers use for response inhibition. Failure to engage such regions for response inhibition may underlie some of the risky and impulsive behaviors observed in high sensation seekers.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging; cognitive control; personality
Negative affect has been consistently linked with substance use/problems in prior research. The present study sought to build upon these findings by exploring how an individual’s characteristic responding to negative affect impacts substance abuse risk. Trait negative affect was examined in relation to substance abuse outcomes along with two variables tapping into response to negative affect: Distress Tolerance, an individual’s perceived ability to tolerate negative affect, and Negative Urgency, the tendency to act rashly while experiencing distress.
Participants were 525 first-year college students (48.1% male, 81.1% Caucasian), who completed self-report measures assessing personality traits and alcohol-related problems, and a structured interview assessing past and current substance use. Relations were tested using Zero-Inflated Negative Binomial regression models, and each of the personality variables was tested in a model on its own, and in a model where all three traits were accounted for.
Negative Urgency emerged as the best predictor, relating to every one of the substance use outcome variables even when trait negative affect and Distress Tolerance were accounted for.
These findings suggest that Negative Urgency is an important factor to consider in developing prevention and intervention efforts aimed at reducing substance use and problems.
negative urgency; substance abuse; distress tolerance; negative affect; alcohol
Although self-report measures of dispositional mindfulness have good psychometric properties, a few studies have shown unexpected positive correlations between substance use and mindfulness scales measuring observation of present-moment experience. The current study tested the hypothesis that the relationship between present-moment observation and substance use is moderated by the tendency to be nonjudgmental and nonreactive toward the observed stimuli. Two hundred and ninety-six undergraduates completed the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), a calendar measuring periods of substance use, and a measure of the Five-Factor Model of personality. Controlling for FFMQ and personality subscales, significant interactions between the observing and nonreactivity subscales indicated that the observing subscale was negatively associated with substance use at higher levels of nonreactivity but positively associated with periods of substance use at lower levels of nonreactivity. Results support the use of statistical interactions among FFMQ subscales to test for the presence of interactive effects of different aspects of mindfulness.
mindfulness; construct validity; substance use; alcohol use; tobacco use; Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5 Personality and Personality Disorders Work Group proposed the elimination of diagnostic criterion sets in favor of a prototype matching system that defines personality disorders using narrative descriptions. Although some research supports this general approach, no empirical studies have yet examined the specific definitions proposed for DSM–5. Given the wide interest in borderline personality disorder (BPD), it is crucial to determine how this methodological shift might affect the content and conceptualization of the diagnosis. Eighty-two experts on BPD provided ratings of the DSM–IV–TR or DSM–5 version of BPD in terms of 37 traits proposed for DSM–5. Analyses revealed significant and meaningful differences among the two constructs, with the DSM–5 version evincing increased interpersonal dependency but a decreased emphasis on antagonism and disinhibition. A second study within a clinical sample demonstrated that both antagonism and disinhibition mediated the relationships between DSM–IV BPD and impairment, suggesting that the proposed changes might have important consequences for BPD’s coverage, prevalence, and nomological network. More globally, our results illustrate that unanticipated shifts in diagnostic constructs can stem from seemingly minor revisions and suggest that research is needed to understand how these, or other changes, might affect our conceptualization, diagnosis, and treatment of BPD.
DSM–5; borderline personality disorder; prototype; antagonism; dependency
Trait impulsivity is a reliable, robust predictor of risky, problematic alcohol use. Mounting evidence supports a multidimensional model of impulsivity, whereby several distinct traits serve as personality pathways to rash action. Different impulsivity-related traits may predispose individuals to drink for different reasons (e.g., to enhance pleasure, to cope with distress) and these different motives may, in turn, influence drinking behavior. Previous findings support such a mediational model for two well-studied traits: sensation seeking and lack of premeditation. This study addresses other impulsivity-related traits, including negative urgency. College students (N = 432) completed questionnaires assessing personality, drinking motives, and multiple indicators of problematic drinking. Negative urgency, sensation seeking, and lack of premeditation were all significantly related to problematic drinking. When drinking motives were included in the model, direct effects for sensation seeking and lack of premeditation remained significant, and indirect effects of sensation seeking and lack of premeditation on problematic drinking were observed through enhancement motives. A distinct pathway was observed for negative urgency. Negative urgency bore a significant total effect on problematic drinking through both coping and enhancement motives. This study highlights unique motivational pathways through which different impulsive traits may operate, suggesting that interventions aimed at preventing or reducing problematic drinking should be tailored to individuals' personalities. For instance, individuals high in negative urgency may benefit from learning healthier strategies for coping with distress.
impulsivity; urgency; drinking motives; alcohol
Psychopathy has shown good construct validity in samples of Caucasian inmates. However, little is known about how well the nomological network surrounding psychopathy generalizes to non-Caucasian and non-incarcerated populations. Using longitudinal and concurrent data from the middle sample of the Pittsburgh Youth Study, this study demonstrates that the validity of total-and facet-level psychopathy is preserved in African American and non-incarcerated samples. Specifically, similar patterns of association were obtained for child variables (child psychopathy, SES, risk status, parenting, delinquency, peer delinquency, and impulsivity) and adult variables (children, education, incarceration, unemployment, personality, substance use, and APD) across ethnicity and arrest status.
Multiple behavioral change is an exciting and evolving research area, albeit one that presents analytic challenges to investigators. This manuscript considers the problem of modeling jointly trajectories for two or more possibly non-normally distributed dependent variables, such as marijuana smoking and risky sexual activity, collected longitudinally. Of particular scientific interest is applying such modeling to elucidate the nature of the interaction, if any, between an intervention and personal characteristics, such as sensation seeking and impulsivity. We describe three analytic approaches: generalized linear mixed modeling, group-based trajectory modeling, and latent growth curve modeling. In particular, we identify the strengths and weaknesses of these analytic approaches and assess their impact (or lack thereof) on the psychological and behavioral science literature. We also compare what investigators have been doing analytically versus what they might want to be doing in the future and discuss the implications for basic and translational research.
The present study examines the incremental predictive utility of psychopathy assessed at age 13 using the Childhood Psychopathy Scale (CPS) in predicting official records of arrests and convictions between the ages of 18 and 26. Data from 338 men from the middle sample of the Pittsburg Youth Study were used. A variety of control variables were included: demographics (race, family structure, SES, and neighborhood SES), parenting (physical punishment, inconsistent discipline, lax supervision, and low positive parenting), peer delinquency, and individual difference variables (impulsivity, Verbal IQ, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Conduct Disorder). CPS scores at age 13 predicted the variety of arrests and convictions 5 to 13 years later, even after controlling for other well-established and well-measured risk factors. It is concluded that juvenile psychopathy is an important and useful risk factor for future antisocial behavior. Implications of these findings and reasons for resistance to the juvenile psychopathy construct are discussed.
The current study examined the relations between impulsivity-related traits (as assessed by the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale) and aggressive behaviors. Results indicated that UPPS-P Lack of Premeditation and Sensation Seeking were important in predicting general violence. In contrast, UPPS-P Urgency was most useful in predicting intimate partner violence. To further explore relations between intimate partner violence and Urgency, a measure of autonomic response to pleasant and aversive stimuli and facets of Neuroticism from the NEO PI-R were used as control variables. Autonomic responsivity was correlated with intimate partner violence at the zero-order level, and predicted significant variance in intimate partner violence in regression equations. However, UPPS-P Urgency was able to account for unique variance in intimate partner violence above and beyond measures of Neuroticism and arousal. Implications regarding the use of a multifaceted conceptualization of impulsivity in the prediction of different types of violent behavior are discussed.
The present study examines the relation between psychopathy assessed at age 13 using the mother-reported Childhood Psychopathy Scale (Lynam, 1997) and psychopathy assessed at age 24 using the interviewer-rated Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV; Hart, Cox, and Hare, 1995). Data from over 250 participants of the middle sample of the Pittsburgh Youth Study were used to examine this relation; approximately 9% of the sample met criteria for a possible PCL:SV diagnosis. Despite the long time-lag, different sources, and different methods, psychopathy from early adolescence into young adulthood was moderately stable, r = 0.31. The relation was present for the PCL:SV total and facet scores, was not moderated by initial risk status or initial psychopathy level, and held even after controlling for other age-13 variables. “Diagnostic” stability was somewhat lower. Specificity and negative predictive power were both good, sensitivity was adequate, but positive predictive power was poor. This constitutes the first demonstration of the relative stability of psychopathy from adolescence into adulthood and provides evidence for the incremental utility of the adolescent psychopathy construct. Implications and future directions are discussed.
adolescent psychopathy; Childhood Psychopathy Scale; chronic offending; longitudinal
The current diagnostic system suggests that personality disorder categories be applied to children and adolescents in rare circumstances due to expected changes in personality pathology across development. The present study examined the stability in personality pathology, specifically psychopathy, across childhood and adolescence. Using a short form of the Childhood Psychopathy Scale (CPS; Lynam, 1997) and mixed models incorporating fixed and random effects, we examined the reliability, individual stability, mean-level stability, and predictive utility of juvenile psychopathy as a function of age (i.e., from 7 years old to 17 years old) in over 1500 boys from the three cohorts of the Pittsburgh Youth Study. If adolescent development contributes to instability in personality pathology, large age-related fluctuations in reliability, stability, and predictive utility should be observed, particularly in the latter part of adolescence when normative changes are hypothesized to influence levels of psychopathy. Such fluctuations were not observed. In general, juvenile psychopathy could be reliably assessed beginning in childhood, was fairly stable across short and long intervals, showed little mean-level fluctuation, and predicted delinquency across adolescence. These results suggest that concerns about large changes in personality pathology across childhood and adolescence may be overstated. Implications and future directions are discussed.
psychopathy; Childhood Psychopathy Scale; longitudinal; personality disorders
Although a powerful technique, the partialling of independent variables from one another in the context of multiple regression analysis poses certain perils. The present article argues that the most important and underappreciated peril is the difficulty in knowing what construct an independent variable represents once the variance shared with other independent variables is removed. The present article presents illustrative analyses in a large sample of inmates (n = 696) using three measures from the psychopathy and aggression fields. Results indicate that in terms of relations among items on a single scale and relations between scales, the raw and residualized scores bore little resemblance to one another. It is argued that researchers must decide to which construct—the one represented by the original scale or the one represented by the residualized scale—conclusions are meant to apply. Difficulties in applying the conclusions to the residualized scale are highlighted and best practices suggested.
psychopathy; aggression; partialling; suppression
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has received significant attention as a predictor of suicidal behavior (SB) and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). Despite significant promise, trait impulsivity has received less attention. Understanding the relations between impulsivity and SB and NSSI is confounded, unfortunately, by the heterogeneous nature of impulsivity. This study examined the relations among 4 personality pathways to impulsive behavior studied via the UPPS model of impulsivity and SB and NSSI in a residential sample of drug abusers (N = 76). In this study, we tested whether these 4 impulsivity-related traits (i.e., Negative Urgency, Sensation Seeking, Lack of Premeditation, and Lack of Perseverance) provide incremental validity in the statistical prediction of SB and NSSI above and beyond BPD; they do. We also tested whether BPD symptoms provide incremental validity in the prediction of SB and NSSI above and beyond these impulsivity-related traits; they do not. In addition to the main effects of Lack of Premeditation and Negative Urgency, we found evidence of a robust interaction between these 2 personality traits. The current results argue strongly for the consideration of these 2 impulsivity-related domains—alone and in interaction—when attempting to understand and predict SB and NSSI.
impulsivity; suicidal behavior; urgency; premeditation; UPPS
High sensation seeking has been linked to increased risk for drug abuse and other negative behavioral outcomes. This study explored the neurobiological basis of this personality trait using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). High sensation seekers (HSSs) and low sensation seekers (LSSs) viewed high- and low-arousal pictures. Comparison of the groups revealed that HSSs showed stronger fMRI responses to high-arousal stimuli in brain regions associated with arousal and reinforcement (right insula, posterior medial orbitofrontal cortex), whereas LSSs showed greater activation and earlier onset of fMRI responses to high-arousal stimuli in regions involved in emotional regulation (anterior medial orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate). Furthermore, fMRI response in anterior medial orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate was negatively correlated with urgency. Finally, LSSs showed greater sensitivity to the valence of the stimuli than did HSSs. These distinct neurobiological profiles suggest that HSSs exhibit neural responses consistent with an overactive approach system, whereas LSSs exhibit responses consistent with a stronger inhibitory system.
This study examined the classification accuracy of the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale (UPPS) in discriminating several attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) subtypes, including predominantly inattentive type (ADHD/I), combined type (ADHD/C), and combined type with behavioral problems (ADHD/ODD), between each other and a non-ADHD control group using logistic regression analyses. The sample consisted of 88 children ranging in age from 9.0 years to 12.8 years, with a mean of 10.9 years. Children were predominantly male (74%) and Caucasian (86%) and in grades 3–7. Results indicated that the UPPS performed well in classifying ADHD subtypes relative to traditional diagnostic measures. In addition, analyses indicated that differences in symptoms between subtypes can be explained by specific pathways to impulsivity. Implications for the assessment of ADHD and conceptual issues are discussed.
ADHD; Impulsivity; UPPS; ADHD subtypes
Few investigations have examined the role of affective instability within a broad model of general personality functioning. The present study employed self-report and ecological momentary assessments (EMA) to examine the relations between self-reported Five-Factor Model Neuroticism, EMA average negative affect, and EMA negative affect instability. Results suggest that Neuroticism and negative affect instability are related yet distinct constructs, and that Neuroticism better represents average negative affect across time. Results also suggest that negative affect instability is related to low Agreeableness and specific externalizing facets of Neuroticism, such as Angry Hostility and Impulsiveness. The implications of these findings and potential areas for future research are discussed.
neuroticism; affective instability; personality; ecological momentary assessment
This study examines moderators of the relation between psychopathy assessed at age 13 using the mother-reported Childhood Psychopathy Scale and psychopathy assessed at age 24 using the interviewer-rated Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV). Data from more than 250 participants of the middle sample of the Pittsburgh Youth Study were used. Thirteen potential moderators were examined, including demographics (i.e., race, family structure, family socioeconomic status [SES], and neighborhood SES), parenting factors (physical punishment, inconsistent discipline, lax supervision, and positive parenting), peer delinquency, own delinquency, and other individual differences (i.e., verbal IQ, behavioral impulsivity, and cognitive impulsivity). Moderators were examined for the total psychopathy score at age 24 as well as for each of the four PCL:SV facets. After relaxing the criterion for statistical significance, 8 out of a possible 65 interactions were statistically significant. Implications of the present findings and future directions are discussed.
psychopathy; stability; Childhood Psychopathy Scale; juvenile psychopathy; antisocial behavior; parenting
This study used data from 6 sites and 3 countries to examine the developmental course of physical aggression in childhood and to analyze its linkage to violent and nonviolent offending outcomes in adolescence. The results indicate that among boys there is continuity in problem behavior from childhood to adolescence and that such continuity is especially acute when early problem behavior takes the form of physical aggression. Chronic physical aggression during the elementary school years specifically increases the risk for continued physical violence as well as other nonviolent forms of delinquency during adolescence. However, this conclusion is reserved primarily for boys, because the results indicate no clear linkage between childhood physical aggression and adolescent offending among female samples despite notable similarities across male and female samples in the developmental course of physical aggression in childhood.
Observational data are often used to address prevention questions such as, “If alcohol initiation could be delayed, would that in turn cause a delay in marijuana initiation?” This question is concerned with the total causal effect of the timing of alcohol initiation on the timing of marijuana initiation. Unfortunately, when observational data are used to address a question such as the above, alternative explanations for the observed relationship between the predictor, here timing of alcohol initiation, and the response abound. These alternative explanations are due to the presence of confounders. Adjusting for confounders when using observational data is a particularly challenging problem when the predictor and confounders are time-varying. When time-varying confounders are present, the standard method of adjusting for confounders may fail to reduce bias and indeed can increase bias. In this paper, an intuitive and accessible graphical approach is used to illustrate how the standard method of controlling for confounders may result in biased total causal effect estimates. The graphical approach also provides an intuitive justification for an alternate method proposed by James Robins (Robins, 1998; Robins, Hernán, & Brumback, 2000). The above two methods are illustrated by addressing the motivating question. Implications for prevention researchers who wish to estimate total causal effects using longitudinal observational data are discussed.
confounding; weighting; total effect; time-varying; graphical approach