Vulnerability for mania - is it linked to problems delaying gratification?

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Sep 30;229(1-2):359-64. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.06.040. Epub 2015 Jun 29.


Impulsivity is described as one of the main risk factors for mania. One facet of impulsivity, the inability to delay gratification, might be of special relevance, because a hypersensitivity to reward is hypothesized to be related to mania. The main aim of this study was to examine whether risk for mania is associated with deficits in the ability to delay gratification using both a behavioral and a self-report (UPPS) measure. An additional reason for choosing the UPPS was to see if prior results about an association between risk for mania and positive urgency could be replicated. Thirty-three individuals at risk for mania and a matched control group were selected using the Hypomanic Personality Scale and interviewed for a history of mood disorders. The main outcome measures were the Single-Key-Impulsivity-Paradigm and Monetary Choice Questionnaire. The groups did not differ in measures of gratification delay but we replicated other studies reporting significantly higher levels of positive urgency and sensation seeking in at-risk individuals. We suggest that individuals at risk might not generally be more impulsive but rather that impulsive behaviors might be triggered in response to specific mood states.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Delay of gratification; Impulsivity; Urgency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Delay Discounting*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Reward*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Young Adult