Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Impulsivity and Reversal Learning

  • Matthew J. Gullo
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_1046



Impulsivity is the propensity to engage in behaviors without adequate forethought. These behaviors are typically approach behaviors aimed at acquiring some kind of reward (e.g., food and money). All major models of human personality include a trait reflecting this propensity, suggesting it to be a core attribute along which people vary. Reversal learning is the updating of stimulus-reinforcement associations when contingencies change. For example, an individual may find foods high in sugar (stimulus) highly pleasurable to eat (reinforcement) and therefore regularly engages in consuming such foods. However, after being diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, they learn to update this association such that high-sugar foods are now linked to serious negative health consequences.

Theoretical Background

Greater understanding of the role of reversal learning in human impulsivity came...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Psychology, Health and SocietyUniversity of Liverpool, Eleanor Rathbone BuildingLiverpoolUK