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Rejecting Impulsivity as a Psychological Construct and Why that Matters

February 3 at 3:00 pm

Justin Strickland, Dr.
Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA

Host: Ulrich Ettinger, Prof. Dr.

A recent meta-analysis of impulsive traits and behavior posed the question “[i]s it possible that rather than seeking a theory of impulsivity, we actually ought to be seeking to explain the diversity of impulsive behaviors?” This talk will explore why the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”. Impulsivity has historically represented a central concept in psychological theory, research, and clinical practice. Definitions of impulsivity widely vary, but often conceptualize and define impulsivity as a multifaceted mixture of personality traits and behaviors. This talk will explore theoretical, empirical, and sociocultural evidence that the construct of impulsivity fails the basic requirements of a psychological construct and should be rejected as such. First, the theory underlying construct development will be reviewed. Next, psychometric, neurobiological, and clinical data indicating that impulsive traits and behaviors fail to cohere collectively will be examined. Following, impulsivity’s relation with the jingle/jangle fallacy will be defined and how this fallacy can result in misunderstanding at a sociocultural level and facilitate misled hypothesizing and artificial inconsistencies for clinical translation. This talk will conclude with a description of how emphasizing the specific constructs underlying impulsivity as independent and interactive personality and behavioral mechanisms will advance psychological theory and practice.

For further information and poster.

Date: February 3 at 3:00 pm

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Ettinger