Emotion regulation and impulsivity in young adults

Liana R.N. Schreiber, Jon E. Grant, Brian L. Odlaug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Past research has linked both emotion regulation and impulsivity with the development and maintenance of addictions. However, no research has investigated the relationship between emotion regulation and impulsivity within young adults. In the present study, we analyzed 194 young adults (27.8% female; 21.3 ± 3.32 years old; 91.8% single; 85.1% Caucasian), grouping them as low, average, or high emotionally dysregulated, and compared self-reported impulsivity, impulsive behaviors (such as alcohol and substance use and gambling) and cognitive impulsivity. We hypothesized that those with high levels of emotion dysregulation would score higher on self-reported and cognitive impulsivity, and report more impulsive behaviors. Analysis indicated that compared to low, the high emotion dysregulation group scored significantly higher on two self-report measures of impulsivity, harm avoidance, and cognitive reasoning. No significant differences were found between groups in impulsive behaviors and cognitive impulsivity. Overall, this study highlights the relationship between emotion dysregulation and impulsivity, suggesting that emotion regulation may be an important factor to consider when assessing individuals at a higher risk for developing an addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-658
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Disclosures of interest include that Mr. Odlaug has received honoraria from Oxford University Press. Dr. Grant has received research grants from NIDA, the National Center for Responsible Gaming, Psyadon Pharmaceuticals, and Transcept Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Grant also receives compensation as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gambling Studies. Ms. Schreiber has no financial interests to report.

Funding Information:
This research is supported in part by a Center for Excellence in Gambling Research grant by the Institute for Responsible Gaming and an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( 1RC1DA028279-01 ) to Dr. Grant.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Addiction
  • Emotion regulation
  • Impulsivity
  • Young adults


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