Around 80% of adults indicate being exposed to at least one traumatic event within their lifetime. Some individuals may develop PTSD, which is comprised of four main symptom clusters: Intrusions, Avoidance of event related stimuli, Negative Alterations in Mood and Cognitions (NAMC), and Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity (AAR). Impulsivity is a multi-faceted construct assessed through both self-report and behavioral measures. Prior literature has suggested an association between impulsivity and trauma/PTSD but has been limited in terms of assessment. The current study examined different facets of impulsivity through self-report and behavioral measures in individuals with and without trauma exposure while also taking into account PTSD symptoms. Participants (N=803) were recruited from a college campus to complete an online survey assessing trauma history, PTSD symptoms, and impulsivity (UPPS- P). A subset was asked to participate in a lab session involving behavioral measures of impulsivity (i.e., GoStop and Two-Choice Impulsivity Paradigms). Participants were grouped into those with and without trauma history. A MANCOVA controlling for self-reported depression symptoms indicated no group differences on any measures of impulsivity. Multiple regression analyses controlling for all PTSD symptom clusters and depression symptoms indicated significant associations between AAR and all facets of self-reported impulsivity except sensation seeking. Intrusions was negatively related to Lack of Perseverance and NAMC was associated with Positive Urgency. For the behavioral measures, Intrusions was negatively related to the GoStop ratio. These results suggest associations between specific PTSD symptom clusters and impulsivity facets but no effect of trauma exposure on impulsivity. Impulsivity is a factor, that as demonstrated by these results, may be an important consideration for assessment and treatment for individuals with trauma exposure/PTSD.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Impulsive personality; Traumatic neuroses; Post-traumatic stress disorder

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Experimental Psychology (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Psychology (CLA)


Rebecca Houston

Advisor/Committee Member

Joseph Baschnagel

Advisor/Committee Member

Lindsay Schenkel


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes