Impulsivity and the generation of negative life events: The role of negative urgency

Richard T. Liu, Evan M. Kleiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


According to the stress generation hypothesis, individuals vulnerable to depression are prone to experience stressors that are in some measure dependent on their behaviors and characteristics (i.e., dependent stressors). Although this phenomenon has also been suggested to be relevant to other forms of psychopathology, the research to date has been equivocal. As a preliminary step towards clarifying the potential role of stress generation in other disorders, one promising approach may be to examine maladaptive behavioral processes relevant to different forms of psychopathology. The current study assessed impulsivity in general, and negative urgency specifically, in relation to stress generation. Participants (N=201) completed baseline self-report measures of depression symptoms and five dimensions of impulsivity (i.e., negative urgency, sensation seeking, lack of premeditation, and lack of perseverance). At four-week follow-up, they completed a measure of life events that had occurred since baseline. Negative urgency, but none of the other impulsivity dimensions, predicted higher occurrences of negative dependent events during follow-up, after covarying gender and baseline depression. Negative urgency did not predict events that were independent of individuals' behaviors. Negative urgency may contribute to the stress generation effect, and future study of this association in the context of impulsivity-related psychopathology is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-612
Number of pages4
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


  • Impulsivity
  • Life events
  • Negative urgency
  • Stress generation


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