Impulsigenic personality: Is urgency an example of the jangle fallacy?

Sarah J. Peterson, Gregory T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Negative and positive urgency (the disposition to act rashly when in a highly negative or positive mood, respectively) have been identified as strong correlates of problem drinking and other addictive behaviors and potent predictors of subsequent drinking onset and increase (Peterson & Smith, 2017; Smith & Cyders, 2016). An unaddressed, important question about the validity of the urgency traits is whether they represent functionally distinct constructs or simply the interaction between lack of planning (the disposition to act rashly) and negative or positive affectivity (the disposition to experience negative or positive mood). If urgency is better represented by interactions between lack of planning and affect, there is no need for urgency risk models or separate urgency measures (Smith & Cyders, 2016). In a longitudinal adolescent sample, we tested whether (a) negative urgency differed from the interaction between lack of planning and negative affect, (b) positive urgency differed from the interaction between lack of planning and positive affect, and (c) each urgency trait predicted the subsequent onset of, and increases in, drinking behavior separately from the corresponding interaction. We found that (a) the corresponding interaction accounted for only 1-3% of the variance in negative or positive urgency, and (b) negative (or positive) urgency prospectively predicted drinking behavior but the corresponding interaction did not. These findings suggest that the urgency traits are distinct from interactions between affect and lack of planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1144
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Affect
  • Construct validity
  • Drinking
  • Lack of planning
  • Urgency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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