A path model of different forms of impulsivity with externalizing and internalizing psychopathology: Towards greater specificity

Sheri L. Johnson, Jordan A. Tharp, Andrew D. Peckham, Charles S Carver, Claudia M. Haase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: A growing empirical literature indicates that emotion-related impulsivity (compared to impulsivity that is unrelated to emotion) is particularly relevant for understanding a broad range of psychopathologies. Recent work, however, has differentiated two forms of emotion-related impulsivity: A factor termed Pervasive Influence of Feelings captures tendencies for emotions (mostly negative emotions) to quickly shape thoughts, and a factor termed Feelings Trigger Action captures tendencies for positive and negative emotions to quickly and reflexively shape behaviour and speech. This study used path modelling to consider links from emotion-related and non-emotion-related impulsivity to a broad range of psychopathologies. Design and methods: Undergraduates completed self-report measures of impulsivity, depression, anxiety, aggression, and substance use symptoms. Results: A path model (N = 261) indicated specificity of these forms of impulsivity. Pervasive Influence of Feelings was related to anxiety and depression, whereas Feelings Trigger Action and non-emotion-related impulsivity were related to aggression and substance use. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that emotion-relevant impulsivity could be a potentially important treatment target for a set of psychopathologies. Practitioner points: Recent work has differentiated two forms of emotion-related impulsivity. This study tests a multivariate path model linking emotion-related and non-emotion-related impulsivity with multiple forms of psychopathology. Impulsive thoughts in response to negative emotions were related to anxiety and depression. Impulsive actions in response to emotions were related to aggression and substance use, as did non-emotion-related impulsivity. The study was limited by the reliance on self-report measures of impulsivity and psychopathology. There is a need for longitudinal work on how these forms of impulsivity predict the onset and course of psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2017

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Impulsivity
  • Psychopathology
  • Urgency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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