Impulsivity, aggressiveness, and DSM-IV personality disorders

Andrea Fossati, Ernest S. Barratt, Serena Borroni, Daniele Villa, Federica Grazioli, Cesare Maffei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study is to assess whether impulsive and aggressive traits can be placed on a continuum with DSM-IV Cluster B Personality Disorders (PDs) and to determine if different aspects of these personality traits are specifically associated with individual Cluster B PDs. The study group comprised 461 outpatients admitted consecutively to a clinic that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of PDs. Principal component analyses clearly suggested a five-factor structure of both normal and psychopathological personality traits. Importantly, measures of impulsivity, aggressiveness and novelty seeking formed a part of the principal component that clustered all Cluster B PDs. Regression analyses indicated that impulsive traits were selectively associated with Borderline PD whereas different aspects of aggressiveness were useful in discriminating Narcissistic PD from Antisocial PD. Sensation seeking traits formed a part of Histrionic PD. These results indicate that impulsive/aggressive traits may be useful in explaining both why Cluster B PDs tend to covary, and why they frequently differ in clinical pictures and courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 15 2007


  • Aggressiveness
  • Impulsivity
  • Personality disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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