Laboratory behavioral measures of impulsivity

Behav Res Methods. 2005 Feb;37(1):82-90. doi: 10.3758/bf03206401.


Previous research and theory have conceptualized impulsivity as a multifaceted construct that requires multiple modes of measurement for accurate assessment. This article describes a software package that includes four paradigms for measuring multiple and unique aspects of impulsivity. Specifically, four tasks are described: (1) the two choice impulsivity paradigm, (2) the single key impulsivity paradigm, (3) the GoStop impulsivity paradigm, and (4) the time paradigm. These tasks measure processes related to the capacity to tolerate delay for reward, to inhibit an already initiated response, and to estimate the passage of time. These processes have been found to be important to the understanding of impulsive behaviors. The programs are flexible and allow the experimenter to manipulate a number of parameters related to delay-reward contingencies, timing, performance feedback/payment, and data output variables. Manipulation of these parameters makes the paradigms scalable to a wide range of ability levels and appropriate for samples ranging from children to adults. The four paradigms in this software package are available at no cost and can be obtained by contacting the corresponding author.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention
  • Behaviorism
  • Choice Behavior
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / epidemiology*
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Motivation
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Software*
  • Time Perception