Dispositional impulsivity in normal and abnormal samples

Janine D. Flory, Philip D. Harvey, Vivian Mitropoulou, Antonia S. New, Jeremy M. Silverman, Larry J. Siever, Stephen B. Manuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Impulsive behaviors, which can include aggression, substance use and suicide, are common and core features of the DSM Axis II Cluster B personality disorders. The construct of dispositional impulsivity is multidimensional and a number of self-report measures have been created to represent features of this trait (e.g., novelty seeking, behavioral disinhibition, nonplanning). Because these questionnaires are rarely administered together in the same sample, little is known about how they are related to one another. The current study was conducted to examine the structure of dimensional impulsive personality traits in a large normative sample (n = 351). Analyses revealed that dispositional impulsivity was represented by three moderately correlated latent factors labeled thrill seeking, nonplanning and disinhibited behavior. Confirmatory factor analyses were also used to examine the extent to which the internal structure of these impulsive personality traits was similar in a sample defined as abnormal (i.e., DSM-III-R Cluster B PD diagnoses; n = 70). Results revealed that the structure of these traits was consistent across the two samples in a model that constrained factor loadings and structural covariances (NFI = 0.89; CFI = 95; RMSEA = 0.04). In addition, correlational relationships between the impulsivity factor scores and behavioral and sociodemographic factors (e.g., socioeconomic status, substance use) were consistent across the two samples. These results help to establish a common framework for understanding the multidimensional nature of impulsivity. Results from these analyses also lend support to a large body of work that demonstrates that normal and abnormal personality features are related.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-447
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Cluster B personality disorder
  • Impulsivity
  • Novelty seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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