Impulse and constraint: Perspectives from personality psychology, convergence with theory in other areas, and potential for integration

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A behavioral dimension of impulse versus constraint has long been observed by personality psychologists. This article begins by reviewing processes underlying this dimension from the perspectives of several personality theories. Some cases of constraint reflect inhibition due to anxiety, but some theories suggest other roots for constraint. Theories from developmental psychology accommodate both possibilities by positing 2 sorts of control over action. These modes of influence strongly resemble those predicated in some personality theories and also 2 modes of function that are asserted by some cognitive and social psychological theories. Several further literatures are considered, to which 2-mode models seem to contribute meaningfully. The article closes by addressing questions raised by these ideas, including whether the issue of impulse versus constraint applies to avoidance as well as to approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-333
Number of pages22
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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