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Psychiatry Res. 1999 Mar 22;85(3):315-26.

Laboratory measures of aggression and impulsivity in women with borderline personality disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Harris County Psychiatric Center, University of Texas, Houston 77030, USA.


To characterize how severe negative affect in women is reflected in objective measures of aggression and impulsivity, the aggressive and impulsive behavior of 14 hospitalized women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) was compared with that of 17 controls. In an impulsivity task, subjects experienced two sets of 50 trials during which they could choose a smaller, immediate monetary reward or a larger but progressively delayed reward. In a separate task (PSAP), subjects earned monetary reinforcers with repeated button presses, and were provoked by the subtraction of money which was blamed on a fictitious other participant. Subjects could respond by ostensibly subtracting money from the fictitious subject (the aggressive response). While selection frequency of the short-delay responses was similar in patients and controls, BPD patients responded to avoid longer delay of reward across trials, and had higher Barratt Impulsiveness Scale total scores and attentional subscale scores. BPD patients responded to the money losses with roughly three times as many aggressive responses as controls and had higher Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory (BDHI), Brown History of Violence, and Retrospective Overt Aggression Scale scores than controls. Aggressive responding rates correlated positively with BDHI scores. These results extend previous findings that negative affect in women is reflected in laboratory behavioral measures.

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