Understanding the role of impulsivity and externalizing psychopathology in alcohol abuse: application of the UPPS impulsive behavior scale

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2003 Aug;11(3):210-7. doi: 10.1037/1064-1297.11.3.210.


The present study explores the relation among 4 personality traits associated with impulsive behavior and alcohol abuse. Personality traits were measured using the 4 subscales of the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale (UPPS; S. P. Whiteside & D. R. Lynam, 2001). The UPPS and measures of psychopathology were administered to clinical samples of alcohol abusers high in antisocial personality traits (AAPD), alcohol abusers low in antisocial personality traits (AA), and a control group (total N = 60). Separate analyses of variance indicated that AAPDs had significant elevations on all 4 UPPS scales, whereas the AAs and controls differed only on the Urgency subscale. However, when controlling for psychopathology, group differences on the UPPS scales disappeared. The results suggest that personality traits related to impulsive behavior are not directly related to alcohol abuse but rather are associated with the elevated levels of psychopathology found in a subtype of alcohol abusers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Male
  • Personality Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sex Characteristics