Are Self-Injurers Impulsive?

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Are Self-Injurers Impulsive?

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Title: Are Self-Injurers Impulsive?
Author: Janis, Irene Belle; Nock, Matthew K.

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Janis, Irene Belle and Matthew K. Nock. 2009. Are self-injurers impulsive? Psychiatry Research 169(3): 261-267.
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Abstract: Common clinical wisdom suggests that people who engage in self-injury are impulsive. However, virtually all prior work in this area has relied on individuals’ self-report of impulsiveness, despite evidence that people are limited in their ability to accurately report on cognitive processes that occur outside awareness. To address this knowledge gap, we used performance-based measures of several dimensions of impulsiveness to assess whether people engaging in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) demonstrate greater impulsiveness than non-injurers. In Study 1, we compared adolescent self-injurers (n=64) to age, sex, and race/ethnicity matched, non-injurious controls (n=30) on self-report impulsiveness (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School Age Children, Present and Lifetime Version, Kaufman et al., 1997), and on performance-based measures of two dimensions of impulsiveness: behavioral disinhibition (Conners' Continuous Performance Test, Connors, 1995) and risky decision-making (Iowa Gambling Task, Bechara et al., 1994). In Study 2, we compared adult female self-injurers (n=20) to age and race/ethnicity matched, non-injurious controls (n=20) on self-report impulsiveness (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11, Patton et al., 1995), and performance-based measures of behavioral disinhibition, risky decision-making, and two measures of delay discounting (Kirby et al., 1999; Richards et al., 1999). In both studies, self-injurers reported greater impulsiveness; however, performance-based measures of impulsiveness failed to detect any between-group differences. We propose several potential explanations for the discrepancies observed between self-report and performance-based measures of impulsiveness and discuss directions for future research on impulsiveness and self-injury.
Published Version: doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2008.06.041
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