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Psychiatry Res. 2007 Jan 15;149(1-3):129-38. Epub 2006 Oct 12.

Obsessive-compulsiveness and impulsivity in a non-clinical population of adolescent males and females.

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Medical Research Center, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Tao-yuan, Taiwan.


Obsessive-compulsive and impulsive behaviors co-occur in certain psychiatric conditions. Some have suggested that these disturbances constitute a spectrum of altered psychologies and behaviors that share an underlying neuropathology. We investigate here whether obsessive-compulsiveness and impulsivity reflect related psychological dimensions in a non-clinical adolescent population. Out of 720 high-school students, 672 and 682 completed a questionnaire interview with a Chinese version of the Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory (MOCI) and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), respectively. Both MOCI and BIS-11 demonstrated good overall internal consistency, each with three major factors identified with Principal Component Analysis. In the 638 participants who completed both questionnaires, the total MOCI and BIS-11 scores did not correlate with each other. However, the MOCI factor "repetitive checking and attention to details" correlated negatively with the BIS-11 factor "inability to plan and look ahead" for all participants, and for males and females separately. The same MOCI factor also correlated negatively with the BIS-11 factors "lack of perseverance and self-control" and "novelty-seeking and acting without thinking" for all participants, and for females but not for males. The MOCI factor "doubt and intrusive thoughts" correlated positively with the BIS-11 factor "lack of perseverance and self-control" for all participants, and for males but not for females. These results suggested that the relationship between obsessive-compulsiveness and impulsivity as measured by the MOCI and the BIS-11 is complicated, with gender playing an important modulatory role. We discuss the relevance of these findings to developing a conceptual scheme to characterize and study the neurobiological basis of obsessive-compulsive and impulsive behaviors.

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