Substance abuse problems have been associated with an increased level of risk propensity and highly impulsive behavior. Those who suffer from such problems tend to value the immediacy of a salient reward more than the possibility of adverse future consequences. This study will determine how impulsiveness may correlate and predict risky behavior in a group of former substance abusers (FSA), and as compared to a control group of college-aged participants. A self-report measure of impulsiveness (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale) and a behavioral measure of risk-propensity (Balloon Analogue Risk Task) was administered to both groups. Results found that the two groups differed significantly only in Non-planning Impulsiveness and that a strong correlation existed between Attentional Impulsiveness and risk propensity in the FSA group, in addition to a linear trend in risk propensity based on overall impulsiveness level for the FSA group. These results suggest that high impulsiveness may be a good predictor of risky behavior, but only in those with a substance abuse disorder, suggesting a possible target area for treatment programs, and also that substance abuse and addiction may be connected more to personality than previously assumed.


Herzmann, Grit




Clinical Psychology


Risk Propensity, Personality, Substance Abuse

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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