Previous research using self-report measures has shown an association between nonsuicidal self-injurious behavior (NSSI) and impulsive tendencies. However, self-injurers have not been shown to be different from comparison groups on laboratory tasks putatively assessing impulsive behavior. One explanation for these contradictory findings is that self-report and laboratory measures of impulsive behavior tap into distinct but related constructs. Moreover, performance on laboratory measures of impulsive behavior can be influenced by myriad contextual and affective factors not present during past self-reported NSSI events. Accordingly, a relationship between behavioral tasks of impulsivity and self-injurious behavior could emerge if both are assessed relatively close in time under controlled laboratory conditions. To test this possibility, both self-ratings and laboratory task measures of self-injurious and impulsive behavior were employed in the current study. This multi-modal assessment approach revealed that self-rated impulsivity was associated with both self-report and behavioral measures of self-injurious behavior. Moreover, behavioral measures of impulsivity were associated with self-injurious behavior, but not NSSI history. These results provide support for the notion that a multi-modal approach to assessing self-injurious behavior is important for better understanding the correlates of nonsuicidal self-injury.
© 2012 The American Association of Suicidology.