Clarifying the role of impulsivity in bulimia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2003 May;33(4):406-11. doi: 10.1002/eat.10165.


Objective: With the goal of demonstrating that urgency impulsivity is associated with bulimic symptoms, not (lack of) planning impulsivity, the authors conducted two studies assessing these personality traits and bulimic symptoms in undergraduate women.

Method: In study 1 291 women completed urgency and deliberation scales of the NEO PIR and the BULIT-R. In study 2 101 women completed alternative measures tapping these personality constructs and the BULIT-R.

Results: In both studies, what is commonly assessed with impulsivity measures, a lack of planning, was not significantly associated with bulimic symptoms. However, urgency, the tendency to act rashly when experiencing negative affect, was positively correlated with bulimic symptoms.

Discussion: The authors suggest that future researchers assess urgency, not lack of planning, when assessing impulsivity as a risk factor for bulimia nervosa.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / diagnosis
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Students / psychology