Impulsive and premeditated subtypes of aggression in conduct disorder: differences in time estimation

Aggress Behav. Nov-Dec 2007;33(6):574-82. doi: 10.1002/ab.20219.


Research aimed at identifying and studying subtypes of aggression have historically dichotomized aggressive subtypes, although specific nomenclature has varied; one approach has been to classify aggressive behavior as predominantly impulsive or predominantly premeditated. There are a number of behavioral and cognitive differences between those exhibiting these different forms of aggression. This study was designed to extend understanding of the impulsive/premeditated aggression dichotomy by comparing time estimation among adolescents exhibiting predominantly impulsive or predominantly premeditated forms of physical aggression who have a psychiatric diagnosis of conduct disorder (CD). Time estimation has previously been shown to be disrupted in impulsive and some aggressive individuals. Time estimation was compared between healthy Controls (n = 37) and two groups of adolescents with CD, those with histories of either predominantly impulsive (CD-Impulsive, n = 26) or predominantly premeditated (CD-Premeditated, n = 38) aggressive behaviors. Participants completed five computerized trials during which they estimated when 1 min had passed. Among aggressive adolescents with CD, the misperception of time was specific to those with histories of impulsive aggression, although time estimates improved with repeated testing and performance feedback. This study confirms the importance of considering the role and type of physical aggression when studying heterogeneous diagnostic groups like CD and supports the relevance of time estimation to certain subgroups of adolescents with CD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychometrics
  • Time Perception*
  • Wechsler Scales