Nothing or just a bit? Much or too much? Impulsivity traits as markers of severity transitions within non-problematic and problematic ranges of alcohol and Internet use (2014)

Adicciones. 2014;26(2):159-67.

[Article in Spanish]

J F N, A T, A C, J C P.


This study aims to explore the relationship between impulsivity traits and perceived negative consequences of alcohol consumption and Internet use. More specifically, impulsivity traits – positive and negative urgency, sensation seeking, lack of premeditation, and lack of perseverance – in (1) the occurrence of initial negative consequences linked to use, and (2) the transition from consequences possibly indicating a problematic behavior to consequences very likely indicating a clinical problem.

For this, 709 first year college students were assessed using the UPPS-P impulsive behavior scale, and the Multicage CAD-4 scale for addictive behaviors. Logistic regressions were used to discriminate (a) between individuals with a 0-score and individuals with a 1-score in the Multicage scales (low severity range), and (b) between individuals with a 2-score and individuals with 3/4-score (high severity range), separately for alcohol and Internet use.

For alcohol use, positive urgency and lack of premeditation marked the transition from 0 to 1 scores, whereas negative urgency marked the transition from 2 to 3/4 scores. For Internet use, however, none of the UPPS-P dimensions significantly marked the transition from 0 to 1 (occurrence of initial negative consequences), and positive urgency marked the transition from 2 to 3/4 (from possible to very likely problematic behavior). Negative urgency arises as a pathologization marker for alcohol abuse, whereas changes in non-clinical levels are linked to impulsivity elicited by appetitive emotions. Impulsivity does not seem to play any role in low severity levels of Internet use, and positive urgency marks the transition between high severity scores. These differential patterns are indicative of different etiological paths for excessive Internet use and substance abuse.