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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2014 Apr;143(2):850-86. doi: 10.1037/a0033981. Epub 2013 Aug 19.

Behavioral components of impulsivity.

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Department of Psychology, University of Cologne.
Institute of Psychology, Ruprecht- Karls-University Heidelberg.
Institute of Psychology, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg.
Institute of Psychology, Albert-Ludwigs- University Freiburg.


Acting in accord with long-term goals requires control of interfering impulses, the success of which depends on several different processes. Using a structural-equation modeling approach, we investigated 5 behavioral components of impulsivity: the control of stimulus interference, proactive interference, and response interference, as well as decisional and motivational impulsivity. Results support the existence of 5 correlated but separable components of impulsive behavior. The present study is the 1st to demonstrate the separability of stimulus and response interference. It also supports the notion that control of response-related interference is not a unitary construct: Response-selection demands were separable from those of withholding or stopping. Relations between behavioral impulsivity components and self-report measures of impulsivity were largely absent. We conclude that as the construct of impulsivity has been extended to describe an increasingly diverse set of phenomena and processes, it has become too broad to be helpful in guiding future research.

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