Send to

Choose Destination
Behav Ther. 2019 May;50(3):531-543. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2018.09.001. Epub 2018 Sep 11.

Impulsivity and Behavior-Dependent Life Events Mediate the Relationship of Reward Sensitivity and Depression, but Not Hypomania, Among at-Risk Adolescents.

Author information

Temple University.
University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Temple University. Electronic address:


Both reward sensitivity and impulsivity are related to the development and course of bipolar spectrum disorders (BSDs) and have been implicated in other disorders and negative functional outcomes such as substance abuse, obesity, suicidal behaviors, and risk-taking. Furthermore, according to the transactional component of the Behavioral Approach System (BAS)/reward hypersensitivity theory of BSDs, people with reward hypersensitivity should experience more BAS-relevant events, and thus, are more vulnerable to mood symptoms and episodes via stress generation. Impulsivity may exacerbate stress generation in individuals at risk for BSDs based on exhibiting reward hypersensitivity. The current study examined whether impulsivity explained the generation of stress and subsequent mood symptoms beyond what is explained by reward sensitivity alone. Participants were 131 Moderate BAS and 216 High BAS sensitivity adolescents (M = 18.43 years, SD = 1.40), who completed baseline measures of reward sensitivity and impulsivity, as well as follow-up measures of life events and mood symptoms. Results from linear regression analyses indicated that higher baseline impulsivity predicted behavior-dependent, but not behavior-independent, life events. Furthermore, path analyses suggested that the effect of BAS group on depression symptoms at next follow-up was partly explained via the indirect effect of impulsivity and negative behavior-dependent life events. We did not find these effects for behavior-independent or positive-dependent events or for prediction of hypomanic symptoms. The findings suggest that impulsivity may account for stress generation of negative events that precede depression.


behavioral approach system; bipolar spectrum; impulsivity; life event; stress generation

[Available on 2020-05-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center