Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner


  • Kelly WinterEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_653



The meaning of this complex construct is widely debated, including whether it is a stable aspect of personality (trait) or a behavior (state). Most descriptions center on negative aspects and include a reference to behavior executed rapidly without forethought and/or self-control, failure of attention, delay discounting, or probability discounting. There are four main types of impulsivity measures: observer-rated scales (e.g., diagnostic interviews), self-report questionnaires (e.g., Barratt Impulsiveness Scale), behavioral laboratory measures (e.g., reward-choice paradigms), and biological measures (e.g., event-related potentials).


Reacting quickly without forethought can be prudent. For instance, a race-car driver whose split-second decision results in victory is exhibiting functional impulsivity, characterized by rapid response time. However, particularly in psychology, emphasis is placed on the...

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References and Readings

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  9. Webster, C. D., & Jackson, M. A. (Eds.). (1997). Impulsivity: Theory, assessment, and treatment. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
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  11. http://www.impulsivity.org. Accessed Feb 11, 2011.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EpidemiologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA