Linking cognitive measures of response inhibition and reward sensitivity to trait impulsivity

Ainara Jauregi, Klaus Kessler, Stefanie Hassel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impulsivity is regarded as a multifaceted construct that comprises two dimensions: rapid-response impulsivity and reward-delay impulsivity. It is unclear, however, which aspects of trait impulsivity, as assessed by self-report measures are related to rapid-response impulsivity and/or to reward-delay impulsivity, as different results have been reported in studies using both self-report and cognitive measures. This study aimed to directly relate self-report measures of impulsivity to cognitive measures of impulsivity in individuals at low- or high-levels on two impulsivity dimensions, specifically rapid-response impulsivity and reward-delay impulsivity. Participants were classified into high- or low-impulsivity groups based on (1) level of rapid-response impulsivity (determined by BIS-11 Motor subscale scores); (2) level of reward-delay impulsivity (determined by BIS/BAS subscale scores); and (3) a combination of rapid-response impulsivity and reward-delay impulsivity levels. Impulsivity was assessed using Go/No-Go, Stop-Signal and Delay-Discounting tasks and self-report measures. The high rapid-response impulsivity group showed significantly higher reward-delay impulsivity on both, the Delay-Discounting tasks and on self-report measures assessing reward-delay impulsivity, than the low-risk group. Based on the level of reward-delay impulsivity, the high reward-delay impulsivity group scored significantly higher on task-based (cognitive) and self-report measures assessing rapid-response inhibition than the low reward-delay impulsivity group. Combining both dimensions of impulsivity showed that the high-impulsivity group performed significantly worse in rapid-response paradigms and temporally discounted significantly more impulsively than the low-impulsivity group. Thus, combined impulsivity factors provide better assessment of impulsivity than each dimension alone. In conclusion, robust differences in impulsivity can be identified in non-clinical young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2306
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Jauregi, Kessler and Hassel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • Delay discounting
  • Impulsivity
  • Rapid-response
  • Response inhibition
  • Reward-delay


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