Personality and psychopathology in an impulsive aggressive college sample

Laura E. Helfritz, Matthew S. Stanford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Certain personality traits have been associated with impulsive aggression in both college and community samples, primarily irritability, anger /hostility, and impulsivity. The literature regarding the psychopathology associated with impulsive aggression is relatively sparse and strongly emphasizes DSM-IV-TR [APA, 2000] Axis II personality disorders, although some comorbidity with Axis I clinical disorders has been reported. The current study compares impulsive aggressive (IA) college students with their non-aggressive peers on several self-report measures of personality and psychopathology. Personality results were as predicted, with IAs scoring higher than controls on measures of impulsivity and aggression. Additionally, the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI), which was given for exploratory purposes, revealed a unique pattern of psychopathic traits in impulsive aggression that contained key differences from the callous-unemotional profile seen in premeditated aggression. Contrary to our hypothesis that a specific pattern of psychopathology (personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) would emerge for impulsive aggression, IAs scored significantly higher than controls on nearly every clinical scale of the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI; Somatic Complaints, Anxiety, Anxiety-Related Disorders, Depression, Mania, Schizophrenia, Borderline Features, Antisocial Features, Alcohol Problems, and Drug Problems), indicating a global elevation of psychopathology. In conclusion, while the personality traits and behaviors that characterize impulsive aggression are relatively consistent across individuals, its associated psychopathology is unexpectedly variable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalAggressive Behavior
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

Keywords

  • Impulsive aggression
  • Impulsivity
  • Personality
  • Personality Assessment Inventory
  • Psychopathic Personality Inventory
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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