Test-retest reliability of behavioral measures of impulsive choice, impulsive action, and inattention

Jessica Weafer, Matthew J. Baggott, Harriet De Wit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Behavioral measures of impulsivity are widely used in substance abuse research, yet relatively little attention has been devoted to establishing their psychometric properties, especially their reliability over repeated administration. The current study examined the test-retest reliability of a battery of standardized behavioral impulsivity tasks, including measures of impulsive choice (i.e., delay discounting, probability discounting, and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task), impulsive action (i.e., the stop signal task, the go/no-go task, and commission errors on the continuous performance task), and inattention (i.e., attention lapses on a simple reaction time task and omission errors on the continuous performance task). Healthy adults (n = 128) performed the battery on two separate occasions. Reliability estimates for the individual tasks ranged from moderate to high, with Pearson correlations within the specific impulsivity domains as follows: impulsive choice (r range: .76 -.89, ps < .001); impulsive action (r range: .65-.73, ps < .001); and inattention (r range: .38 -.42, ps < .001). Additionally, the influence of day-to-day fluctuations in mood, as measured by the Profile of Mood States, was assessed in relation to variability in performance on each of the behavioral tasks. Change in performance on the delay discounting task was significantly associated with change in positive mood and arousal. No other behavioral measures were significantly associated with mood. In sum, the current analysis demonstrates that behavioral measures of impulsivity are reliable measures and thus can be confidently used to assess various facets of impulsivity as intermediate phenotypes for drug abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-481
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Behavioral impulsivity
  • Impulsive action
  • Impulsive choice
  • Reliability
  • Test-retest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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