Positive Urgency Predicts Illegal Drug Use and Risky Sexual Behavior

Tamika C.B. Zapolski, Melissa A. Cyders, Gregory T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


There are several different personality traits that dispose individuals to engage in rash action. One such trait is positive urgency: the tendency to act rashly when experiencing extremely positive affect. This trait may be relevant for college student risky behavior, because it appears that a great deal of college student risky behavior is undertaken during periods of intensely positive mood states. To test this possibility, the authors conducted a longitudinal study designed to predict increases in risky sexual behavior and illegal drug use over the course of the first year of college (n = 407). In a well-fitting structural model, positive urgency predicted increases in illegal drug use and risky sexual behavior, even after controlling for time 1 (T1) involvement in both risky behaviors, biological sex, and T1 scores on four other personality dispositions to rash action. The authors discuss the theoretical and practical implications of this finding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • drug use
  • emotion
  • impulsivity
  • risk
  • risky sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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