Year

2014

Degree Name

Masters by Research (Psychology)

Department

Faculty of Social Sciences

Abstract

Previous studies have examined impulsivity using self-report measures, physiological measures, and behavioural tasks, primarily in adult populations. Few past studies have examined adolescents’ impulsivity across such measures concurrently. Further, past research has rarely examined the link between impulsivity and emotion regulation across various measures in a non-clinical sample. This study assessed the relationship between impulsivity, effortful control and emotion regulation. One hundred and seventy typically-functioning adolescents had heart rate, heart rate variability, and alpha EEG power recorded while undertaking two 3-minute resting tasks (eyes open and eyes closed), a visual inhibitory control task, and a visual selective attention task. Prior to testing, parents and adolescents completed a questionnaire measuring effortful control, and parents completed a questionnaire addressing AD/HD symptomology, including impulsivity. Analyses revealed mixed findings. A lack of emotion regulation strategies and clarity, and the presence of impulse control difficulties, were most strongly associated with observer-reported impulsivity. There were no significant relationships between emotion dysregulation and psychophysiological measures, or behavioural measures of impulse control. Relationships between subsets of emotion dysregulation and behavioural measures of selective attention were varied. Overall, some support for a relationship between emotion dysregulation and impulsivity in adolescents was found, but it was concluded that this relationship may be exclusive to certain aspects of each construct. Finally, while effortful control correlated inversely with impulsivity, there were few significant correlations amongst different measures of impulsivity, suggesting this construct may indeed be multi-dimensional, with different measures tapping into different types or subsets of impulsivity.

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