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October 2021

Impulsivity, arousal and attention

Journal/Book: Pers Indiv Differ. 2000; 28: the Boulevard Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford Ox5 1GB, England. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 563-581.

Abstract: This study compared the utility of four theories of impulsivity that differ in whether they attribute impulsivity-related differences in performance to differences in arousal, differences in attentional processes or differences in nonattentional processes. Based on self-report, subjects were categorized as high or low in two forms of impulsivity, dysfunctional and functional, and two forms of arousal, tense and energetic. The four theories made differing predictions about the relationship between dysfunctional impulsivity, energetic arousal, and subjects' performance on a visual search task whose attentional demands were manipulated. It was found that higher levels of energetic arousal were associated with faster performance for high dysfunctional impulsives and slower performance for low dysfunctional impulsives only when the task was attention-demanding, supporting the theory that impulsivity-related differences in performance are due to differences in the mechanisms that allocate attention. Functional impulsivity showed complex interactions with both tense and energetic arousal; these were explained in terms of the effects of tense arousal on functional impulsives' levels of cautiousness, and the effects of energetic arousal on their ability to shift attention rapidly.

Note: Article Dickman SJ, Univ Massachusetts, Dept Psychol, N Dartmouth,MA 02747 USA


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