The relationship between subjective social status, impulsivity and addictive behaviours

Richard J. Tunney*, Jodie N. Raybould

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Why are people from less affluent social groups more likely to engage in addictive behaviours and to transition from recreational use to addiction? One contributing factor may be the influence that the environment has on decision-making. To test this, we examined the relationship between subjective social status, impulsivity, and engagement with addictive behaviours in 500 adults in the United Kingdom. Regression and Path Analyses were used to examine the direct and indirect relationships between subjective social status, trait impulsivity, and potentially addictive behaviours, including alcohol consumption, gambling, tobacco and drug use, and gaming. Social status was predictive of trait impulsivity but did not directly predict all of the addictive behaviours that we examined. Instead, we found an indirect relationship between subjective social status and trait impulsivity, and between trait impulsivity and participation with addictive behaviours. The data are important for our understanding of the role that environment plays in the development of individual differences and the distribution of addiction behaviour across social groups. We anticipate that early screening tools or interventions can be developed where individuals with low social status and high trait impulsivity are alerted to their increased risk of addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100130
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research Communications
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • Addiction
  • Addictive behaviour
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Gaming
  • Smoking
  • Subjective social status


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