Impulsivity and Alcohol Involvement: Multiple, Distinct Constructs and Processes

Andrew K. Littlefield, Angela K. Stevens, Kenneth J. Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Of all the personality traits associated with problematic alcohol involvement, traits related to impulsivity appear to show the most robust relations to alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. This article reviews both seminal articles that focus on broadband measures of impulsivity and newer research linking more specific impulsivity-related traits to the development and course of problematic alcohol involvement, with a specific focus on self-report measures of impulsivity-related traits. Specifically, empirical support for different theoretical models that account for the overlap between impulsivity-related traits and problematic alcohol involvement is discussed, including current limitations of existing research. Recent studies suggest that specific impulsivity constructs relate to distinct aspects of alcohol-related behavior. Further, there is emerging evidence that problematic alcohol use and impulsivity-related traits are dynamically related, such that changes in these constructs appear to correlate during specific developmental periods. We close by discussing potential research directions that may provide increased clarity in understanding the impulsivity–alcohol relation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Alcohol involvement
  • Alcohol use disorders
  • Behavioral undercontrol
  • Impulsivity
  • Personality
  • UPPS-P
  • Urgency


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