Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Relationships between Functional and Dysfunctional Impulsivity and Aggression across Different Samples

  • Andreu Vigil-Colet (a1), Fabia Morales-Vives (a1) and Jordi Tous (a1)

E. S. Barratt proposed the term impulsive aggression to define a kind of aggression that is characterized by acting without thinking because of high levels of impulsivity. Previous research using psychometric measures has shown that impulsivity and aggression are related as far as psychometric measures are concerned. Nevertheless, most of the research has been done with samples of university students. Our research tests whether this relationship is stable across different samples; university students, teenagers and workers. Our results show that impulsivity and aggression have a consistent pattern of relationships across these samples, with impulsivity being specially related to emotional and instrumental aspects of aggression. Furthermore, the effects of anger on aggression seem to show a pattern of relationship that depends on age, with a tendency to physical aggression in young people and verbal aggression in adults.

E. S. Barratt ha propuesto el término agresión impulsiva para definir un tipo de agresión que se caracteriza por actuar sin pensar debido a altos niveles de impulsividad. Investigaciones anteriores con medidas psicométricas han mostrado que impulsividad y agresión están relacionadas en lo que a las medidas psicométricas se refiere. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las investigaciones han empleado muestras de estudiantes universitarios. Nuestro trabajo trata de comprobar si esta relación se mantiene en muestras diferentes. Nuestros resultados indican que impulsividad y agresión muestran una pauta de relación consistente across these samples, estando la impulsividad especialmente relacionada con los aspectos emocionales e instrumentales de la agresión. Además, los efectos de la ira sobre la agresión muestran al parecer una pauta de relación dependiente de la edad, encontrándose una tendencia a la agresión física en gente joven y la agresión verbal en adultos.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be adressed to Andreu Vigil-Colet, CRAMC (Research center for behaviour assessment), Departament de Psicologia, Facultat de C.C. E. E. i Psicologia, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 43007 -Tarragona, Spain. E-mail:
Hide All
Andreu, J. M., Peña, M. E., & Graña, J. L. (2002). Adaptación psicométrica de la versión española del Cuestionario de Agresión. Psicothema, 14(2), 476482.
Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in real-word settings: A meta-analytic review. Review of General Psychology, 8, 291332.
Archer, J., Kilkpatrick, G., & Bramwell, R. (1995). Comparison of two aggression inventories. Aggressive Behavior, 21, 371380.
Archer, J., & Webb, I. A. (2006) The relation between scores on the Buss–Perry Aggression Questionnaire and aggressive acts, impulsiveness, competitiveness, dominance, and sexual jealousy. Aggressive Behavior, 32, 464473.
Ávila, C., & Parcet, M. A. (1997). Impulsivity and anxiety differences in cognitive inhibition. Personality and Individual Differences, 23(6), 10551064.
Barratt, E. S. (1991). Measuring and predicting aggression within the context of a personality theory. Journal of Neuropsychiatry, 3, 535539.
Barratt, E. S. (1994). Impulsiveness and Aggression. In Monahan, J. & Steadman, H.J. (Eds.), Violence and mental disorders: Developments in risk assessment (pp. 6179). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Barratt, E. S., & Slaughter, L. (1998). Defining, measuring, and predicting impulsive aggression: A heuristic model. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 16, 285302.
Barratt, E. S., Stanford, M. S., Dowdy, L., Liebman, M. J., & Kent, T. A. (1999). Impulsive and premeditated aggression: A factor analysis of self-reported acts. Psychiatry Research, 86, 163173.
Barratt, E. S., Stanford, M. S., Kent, T. A., & Felthous, A. (1997). Neuropsychological and cognitive psychophysiological substrates of impulsive aggression. Biological Psychiatry, 41, 10451061.
Bernstein, I. H., and Gesn, P. R. (1997). On the dimensionality of the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire. Behavior Research and Therapy, 35, 563568.
Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The Aggression Questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(3), 452459.
Chico, E., Tous, J. M., Lorenzo-Seva, U., & Vigil-Colet, A. (2003). Spanish adaptation of Dickman's Impulsivity Inventory: Its relationship to Eysenck's Personality Questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 18831892.
Condon, L., Morales-Vives, F., Ferrando, P. J, & Vigil-Colet, A. (2006). Sex differences in the full and reduced versions of the Aggression Questionnaire: A question of differential item functioning? European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 22, 9297.
Dickman, S. J. (1990). Functional and dysfunctional impulsivity: Personality and cognitive correlates. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(1), 95102.
Eysenck, H. J. (1993). The nature of impulsivity. In McCown, W. G., Johnson, J. L., & Shure, M. B. (Eds.), The impulsive client: Theory, research and treatment (pp. 5770). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Eysenck, S. B. G. (1997). Psychoticism as a dimension of personality. In Nyborg, H. (Ed.), The scientific study of human nature (pp. 109121). Oxford, England: Elsevier Science.
Eysenck, S. B. G., Pearson, P. R., Easting, G., & Allsopp, J.F. (1985). Age norms for impulsiveness, venturesomeness, and empathy in adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 6, 613619.
Felthous, A.R. (1998) Introduction to impulsive aggression. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 13, 281283.
Ferrando, P. J., Condon, L., & Chico, E. (2004). The convergent validity of acquiescence: An empirical study relating balanced scales and separate acquiescence scales. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 13311340.
Fink, A. D., & McCown, W. G. (1993). Impulsivity in children and adolescents: Measurement, causes and treatment. In McCown, W., Johnson, J. L., & Shure, M. B. (Eds.), The impulsive client: Theory, research and treatment (pp. 279308). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Gerbing, D. W., Ahadi, S. A., & Patton, J. H. (1987) Toward a conceptualisation of impulsivity: Components across the behavioural and self-report domains. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 22, 357379.
Helfritz, L. E., & Stanford, M. S. (2006). Personality and psychopathology in an impulsive-aggressive college sample. Aggressive Behavior, 32, 2837.
Horna, N. R., Dolan, M., Elliott, R., Deakin, J. F., & Woodruff, P. W. (2003). Response inhibition and impulsivity: An fMRI study. Neuropsychologia, 41, 19591966
Logan, G. D., Schachar, R. J., & Tannock, R. (1997). Impulsivity and inhibitory control. Psychological Science, 8, 6064.
Marsh, D. M., Dougherty, D. D., Mathias, C. W., Moeller, F. G., & Hicks, L. R. (2002). Comparisons of women with high and low trait impulsivity using behavioral models of response-disinhibition and reward-choice. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 12911310.
McMurran, M., Blair, M., & Egan, V. (2002). An investigation of the correlations between aggression, impulsiveness, social problem-solving, and alcohol use. Aggressive Behavior 28, 439445.
Miller, J., Flory, K., Lynam, D., & Leukefeld, C. (2003). A test of the four-factor model of impulsivity related traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 14031418.
Miller, E., Joseph, S., & Tudway, J. (2004). Assessing the component structure of four self-report measures of impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 349358.
Morales-Vives, F. (2007). El efecto de la impulsividad sobre la agresividad y sus consecuencias en el rendimiento de los adolescentes. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Universitat Rovira i Virgili,Tarragona, Spain.
Morales-Vives, F., Codorniu-Raga, M. J., & Vigil-Colet, A. (2005). Psychometric properties of the reduced versions of Buss and Perry's Aggression Questionnaire. Psicothema. 17, 96100.
O'Connor, D. B., Archer, J., Hair, M., & Wu, F. W. C. (2002). Exogenous testosterone, aggression and mood in eugonadal and hypogonadal men. Physiology and Behavior. 75, 557566.
Patton, J. H., Stanford, M. S., & Barratt, E. S. (1995). Factor structure of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 768774.
Ramirez, J. M., & Andreu, J. M. (2006). Aggression, and some related psychological constructs (anger, hostility, and impulsivity): Some comments from a research project. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 30, 276291.
Ramírez, J., Andreu, J. M., & Fujihara, T. (2001). Cultural and sex differences in aggression: A comparison between Japanese and Spanish students using two different inventories. Aggressive Behavior, 27, 313322.
Roberts, B. W., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (2001). The kids are allright: Growth and stability in personality development from adolescence to adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 81, 670683.
Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Smillie, L. D., and Jackson, C. J. (2006). Functional impulsivity and reinforcement sensitivity theory. Journal of Personality, 74, 4783.
Spear, L. P. (2000). The adolescent brain and age-related behavioral manifestations. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 24417463
Vigil-Colet, A. (2007). Impulsivity and decision-making in the balloon analogue risk-taking task. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 3745.
Vigil-Colet, A., & Codorniu-Raga, M.J. (2004). Aggression and inhibition deficits: The role of functional and dysfunctional impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences. 37, 14311440.
Vigil-Colet, A., & Morales-Vives, F. (2005). How impulsivity is related to intelligence and academic achievement. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 8, 199204.
Whiteside, S. P., & Lynam, D. R. (2001). The five-factor model and impulsivity: Using a structural model of personality to understand impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 669689.
Williams, T. Y., Boyd, J. C., Cascardi, M. A., & Poythress, N. (1996). Factor structure and convergent validity of the Aggression Questionnaire in an offender population. Psychological Assessment, 4, 398403.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
  • URL: /core/journals/spanish-journal-of-psychology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed