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The Latent Genetic Structure of Impulsivity and its Relation to Internalizing Psychopathology

By Daniel E. Gustavson, Naomi P. Friedman, Pierre Fontanillas, Sarah L. Elson, the 23andMe Research Team, Abraham A. Palmer, Sandra Sanchez-Roige

Posted 08 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.07.897231

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 (the short version of the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale), using published genome-wide association study (GWAS) statistics from up to 22,861 research participants. We also tested the hypothesis that emotionally-triggered facets of impulsivity (urgency) would be those most strongly genetically correlated with an internalizing latent factor. A five-factor model best fit the impulsivity data, and the two urgency subscales most strongly related to internalizing psychopathology. These findings support earlier psychological theories and provide empirical genetic evidence that impulsivity can be disarticulated into distinct categories of differential relevance for internalizing psychopathology. They also demonstrate how measured genetic markers and genomic structure equation modeling can be used to inform theories of psychology/personality.

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