Laboratory measures of aggression and impulsivity in women with borderline personality disorder

Donald M. Dougherty, James M. Bjork, Helena C.G. Huckabee, F. Gerard Moeller, Alan C. Swann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


To characterize how severe negative affect in women is reflected in objective measures of aggression and impulsivity, the aggressive and impulsive behavior of 14 hospitalized women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) was compared with that of 17 controls. In an impulsivity task, subjects experienced two sets of 50 trials during which they could choose a smaller, immediate monetary reward or a larger but progressively delayed reward. In a separate task (PSAP), subjects earned monetary reinforcers with repeated button presses, and were provoked by the subtraction of money which was blamed on a fictitious other participant. Subjects could respond by ostensibly subtracting money from the fictitious subject (the aggressive response). While selection frequency of the short-delay responses was similar in patients and controls, BPD patients responded to avoid longer delay of reward across trials, and had higher Barratt Impulsiveness Scale total scores and attentional subscale scores. BPD patients responded to the money losses with roughly three times as many aggressive responses as controls and had higher Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory (BDHI), Brown History of Violence, and Retrospective Overt Aggression Scale scores than controls. Aggressive responding rates correlated positively with BDHI scores. These results extend previous findings that negative affect in women is reflected in laboratory behavioral measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-326
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 22 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Behavior
  • Borderline
  • Impulsivity
  • Provocation
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Laboratory measures of aggression and impulsivity in women with borderline personality disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this