Impulsiveness or impulsivity is a personality trait characterized by the urge to act spontaneously, i.e., not planned, without reflecting on the consequences of an action. You might call it an arousing of the mind and spirit to do some unpremeditated action.

Impulsiveness is considered an influencing factor in several important psychological behaviors and processes. This includes risk taking, self-regulation and decision-making. It is also found to be a significant component of several clinical conditions including: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder and the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder, as well as alcohol and substance abuse, pathological gambling and perhaps even Shopping Addiction. 

Three Types of Impulsivity

Researchers have identified three types of impulsivity: physical (difficulty sitting or being restless in a theater or during lectures), cognitive (difficulty concentrating, planning or saving money for the future), and sensory (difficulty resisting sensory rewards, small and intermittent as they may be, that bring us back again and again). A person who is highly impulsive in all three areas may well be described as ADHD or ADD as well as not being able to suppress the urge to do something, even when it is important to their own health and safety. This is known as a Suppressed Response Inhibition.


Someone who is diagnosed as having Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) also finds it difficult to control urges. The same trait is found in drug and alcohol abusers, as well as other substance dependent people like smokers, over-eaters and the majority of people diagnosed with ADHD.

Gamblers and Hypochondriacs

Researchers have found impulsivity to be a strong characteristic of people involved in excessive computer game playing, internet gambling, compulsive internet shopping and excessive internet use.

Hypochondriacs, or rather, people suffering with today’s Sumatic Symptom Disorder or Illness Anxiety Disorder experience a wide range of emotional difficulties in life, often having trouble with impulsiveness, neurotic tendencies, and hyper-self-consciousness, as well as anxiety disorder or depression.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

Review our Knowledge Base or the links displayed on this page for similar and related topics.