A multimethod analysis of impulsivity in nonsuicidal self-injury

Personal Disord. 2010 Jan;1(1):67-75. doi: 10.1037/a0017427.


Impulsivity has been proposed as an important construct in nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). Yet, research on the relationship of impulsivity to NSSI has been mixed. The present study clarified this relationship using a multifaceted measure of impulsivity (i.e., UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale), and a computer-based behavioral measure of inhibitory control (i.e., a stop-signal task). Participants were 82 confirmed self-injurers and 86 controls recruited from a college population. Self-injurers and controls performed similarly on the stop-signal task. On the UPPS, self-injurers were best distinguished by Urgency (committing rash decisions when faced with negative emotions), and distinguished to a lesser degree by lack of Premeditation (inability to delay action in order to plan) and Sensation Seeking (seeking excitement and adventure). Among self-injurers, lack of Perseverance (inability to stay with a task through completion) predicted more recent and frequent NSSI. Conceptual and clinical implications are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / epidemiology
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiopathology
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Young Adult