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Impulsivity describes a behavior in which the agent reacts spontaneously and without considering any obvious consequences to external stimuli or internal impulses. There is also talk of carelessness , lack of self-control or disruption of impulse control . To outsiders, the behavior appears inappropriate, uncontrolled and thoughtless.


In addition to verbal and motor responses, impulsivity can also dominate a person's thinking; it is then characterized by hasty conclusions and decision-making. Another characteristic can be the inability to accept temporary inconveniences with regard to a reward that is not to be expected until later ( tolerance of frustration , delayed reward ).

Studies have shown that certain factors such as increased impulsivity and low inhibition of nerve signals are related to brain activity in the frontal lobe . They can affect numerous clinical symptoms. A lower P3 rash in the EEG and the reduced activity in the front of the brain can therefore be considered a risk factor for numerous behavioral disorders such as alcohol dependence .


Impulsivity can occur as a symptom of a variety of different mental disorders - especially attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotionally unstable personality disorder or borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder .

But it can also be observed in psychopathy , schizophrenia , mania , obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette's syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Some impulsive behaviors are classified as impulse control disorders in the ICD-10 : e. B. Gambling ( pathological gambling ), compulsive arson ( pyromania ), recurrent stealing without motive ( kleptomania ), sex addiction ( hypersexuality ) or compulsive hair-plucking ( trichotillomania ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. What does being impulsive or impulsive mean? (No longer available online.) In:, archived from the original on November 1, 2013 ; accessed on May 12, 2014 (in simplified, child-friendly language).
  2. Focus online: Risk factor impulsivity
  3. Andrew CH Chen, Bernice Porjesz u. a .: Reduced Frontal Lobe Activity in Subjects With High Impulsivity and Alcoholism. In: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 31, 2007, pp. 156-165, doi: 10.1111 / j.1530-0277.2006.00277.x .
  4. Hans-Ludwig Spohr: The fetal alcohol syndrome. 2nd Edition. De Gruyter, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-044466-7 , pp. 69, 101-103, 202 .
  5. Borderline Study Research Mannheim Heidelberg ... (No longer available online.) In: Mannheim Heidelberg BPS research group, archived from the original on May 12, 2014 ; accessed on May 12, 2014 .