Social rejection magnifies impulsive behavior among individuals with greater negative urgency: An experimental test of urgency theory

David S. Chester, Donald R. Lynam, Richard Milich, C. Nathan DeWall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Impulsivity is a multifaceted trait with substantial implications for human well-being. One facet of impulsivity is negative urgency, the tendency to act impulsively in response to negative affect. Correlational evidence suggests that negative affect magnifies impulsive behavior among individuals with greater negative urgency, yet causal evidence for this core pillar of urgency theory is lacking. To fill this gap in the literature, participants (N = 363) were randomly assigned to experience social rejection (a situation shown to induce negative affect) or acceptance. Participants then reported their subjective negative affect, completed a behavioral measure of impulsivity, and reported their negative urgency. Among individuals with relatively high and average negative urgency, social rejection increased their impulsive behavior through greater experiences of negative affect. These indirect effects were not observed among individuals relatively low in negative urgency. These findings suggest that negative urgency exists at the nexus of urgent dispositions and situations that elicit negative affect, which offers novel support for urgency theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-967
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume146
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Impulsivity
  • Negative affect
  • Negative urgency
  • Social rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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