Dimensions of impulsive behavior in adolescent smokers and nonsmokers

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009 Oct;17(5):302-11. doi: 10.1037/a0017185.


Robust associations have been identified between impulsive personality characteristics and cigarette smoking during adolescents, indicating that impulsive behavior may play an important role in the initiation of cigarette smoking. The present study extended this research by using laboratory behavioral assessments to explore relationships between three specific dimensions of impulsive behavior (impulsive decision-making, inattention, and disinhibition) and adolescent cigarette smoking. Participants were male and female adolescent smokers (n = 50) and nonsmokers (n = 50). Adolescent smokers were more impulsive on a measure of decision-making; however, there were significant smoking status by gender interaction effects for impulsive inattention and disinhibition. Male smokers were most impulsive on the measure of inattention, but male smokers were least impulsive on the measure of disinhibition. Correlations between biomarkers of smoking and impulsive inattention and disinhibition were found for females but not males. The current findings, coupled with previous findings (Reynolds et al., 2007), indicate there may be robust gender difference in associations between certain types of impulsive behavior and cigarette smoking during adolescence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Area Under Curve
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Decision Making
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Carbon Monoxide