Multiple behavioural impulsivity tasks predict prospective alcohol involvement in adolescents

Gordon Fernie, Margot Peeters, Matthew J. Gullo, Paul Christiansen, Jon C. Cole, Harry Sumnall, Matt Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Aims: We investigated reciprocal prospective relationships between multiple behavioural impulsivity tasks (assessing delay discounting, risk-taking, and disinhibition) and alcohol involvement (consumption, drunkenness, and problems) among adolescents. We hypothesised that performance on the tasks would predict subsequent alcohol involvement, and that alcohol involvement would lead to increases in behavioural impulsivity over time. Design: Cross-lagged prospective design in which impulsivity and alcohol involvement were
assessed five times over two years (once every six months, on average). Setting: Classrooms in secondary schools in North West England. Participants: Two hundred and eighty seven adolescents (51% Male) who were aged 12 or 13 at study enrolment. Methods: Participants reported their alcohol involvement and completed computerized tasks of disinhibition, delay discounting, and risk-taking at each assessment. Cross-sectional and prospective relationships
between the variables of interest were investigated using cross-lagged analyses. Results: All behavioural impulsivity tasks predicted a composite index of alcohol involvement six months later (all ps < .01), and these prospective relationships were reliable across the majority of time points. Importantly, we did not observe the converse relationship across time: alcohol involvement did not predict performance on behavioural impulsivity tasks at any subsequent
time point. Conclusions: Several measures of impulsivity predict escalation in alcohol involvement in young adolescents, but alcohol use does not appear to alter impulsivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1916-1923
Number of pages8
Issue number11
Early online date14 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • adolescents
  • alcohol
  • delay discounting
  • disinhibition
  • impulsivity
  • risk-taking


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple behavioural impulsivity tasks predict prospective alcohol involvement in adolescents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this