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The Latent Genetic Structure of Impulsivity and Its Relation to Internalizing Psychopathology.

  • Author(s): Gustavson, Daniel E
  • Friedman, Naomi P
  • Fontanillas, Pierre
  • Elson, Sarah L
  • 23andMe Research Team
  • Palmer, Abraham A
  • Sanchez-Roige, Sandra
  • et al.

Factor analyses suggest that impulsivity traits that capture tendencies to act prematurely or take risks tap partially distinct constructs. We applied genomic structure equation modeling to evaluate the genetic factor structure of two well-established impulsivity questionnaires, using published statistics from genome-wide association studies of up to 22,861 participants. We also tested the hypotheses that delay discounting would be genetically separable from other impulsivity factors and that emotionally triggered facets of impulsivity (urgency) would be those most strongly genetically correlated with an internalizing latent factor. A five-factor model best fitted the impulsivity data. Delay discounting was genetically distinct from these five factors. As expected, the two urgency subscales were most strongly related to an internalizing-psychopathology latent factor. These findings provide empirical genetic evidence that impulsivity can be broken down into distinct categories of differential relevance for internalizing psychopathology. They also demonstrate how measured genetic markers can be used to inform theories of psychology and personality.

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