Externalizing behavior, the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior scale and Reward and Punishment Sensitivity

Scott R. Carlson, Ashley A. Pritchard, Rachelle M. Dominelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior scale is a promising measure of impulsivity facets involved in the etiology of Externalizing behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, antisocial behavior, and aggression). The purpose of this study was to determine whether measures of motivational systems, specifically Reward and Punishment Sensitivity, accounted for variance in Externalizing behaviors beyond the UPPS-P scales. Undergraduates (N= 282; 50% men) completed online self-reports of alcohol and drug use, antisocial behavior, and aggression, as well as the UPPS-P and measures of Reward and Punishment Sensitivity. Principal components analysis was used to create summary Externalizing scores related to Disinhibition and Aggression. Lack of Premeditation, low Perseverance and Sensation Seeking had significant partial relationships with Disinhibition, but Reward Sensitivity accounted for additional variance. Both Reward Sensitivity and (Low) Punishment Sensitivity were related to Aggression, beyond variance explained by UPPS-P Negative Urgency and (lack of) Perseverance. Impulsivity facets appear to have differential relationships with measures of Externalizing and, although the UPPS-P accounts for a significant portion of individual differences, it does not fully account for variance associated with Reward and Punishment Sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-207
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by start-up funds from the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Arts and summer salary from the College of Education and Human Service Professions, University of Minnesota Duluth provided to SRC. RMD’s contributions were supported by a Predoctoral Fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Externalizing behavior
  • Impulsivity
  • Punishment Sensitivity
  • Reward Sensitivity


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