Impulsive personality and alcohol use: Bidirectional relations over one year

Alison Kaiser, Jacqueline A. Bonsu, Richard J. Charnigo, Richard Milich, Donald R. Lynam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Objective: Impulsive personality traits have been found to be robust predictors of substance use and problems in both cross-sectional and longitudinal research. Studies examining the relations of substance use and impulsive personality over time indicate a bidirectional relation, where substance use is also predictive of increases in later impulsive personality. The present study sought to build on these findings by examining the bidirectional relations among the different impulsive personality traits assessed by the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, with an interest in urgency (the tendency to act rashly when experiencing strong affect). Method: Participants were 525 first-year college students (48.0% male, 81.1% White), who completed self-report measures assessing personality traits and a structured interview assessing past and current substance use. Data collection took place at two different time points: the first occurred during the participants’ first year of college, and the second occurred approximately 1 year later. Bidirectional relations were examined using structural equation modeling. Results: Time 1 (T1) positive urgency predicted higher levels of alcohol use at Time 2 (T2), whereas T1 lack of perseverance predicted lower levels of alcohol use at T2. T1 alcohol use predicted higher levels of positive urgency, negative urgency, sensation seeking, and lack of premeditation at T2. Conclusions: Findings provide greater resolution in characterizing the bidirectional relation between impulsive personality traits and substance use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-482
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Alcohol Research Documentation Inc. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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