Impulse control and stimulus amplitude in an inpatient conduct-disordered sample

Charles Bradley Whitehead (1997)

This study investigated how low and high stimulus amplitude impacted impulse control in matched samples of conduct-disordered and non-conduct-disordered inpatient children and adolescents. In concert with H. C. Quay's (1965; 1993) theory which proposes that habitual deviance has its etiology in pathological stimulation-seeking, this research hypothesized that under low levels of stimulation, conduct-disordered youth would exhibit significantly impaired impulse control when compared to non-deviant, psychiatrically afflicted cohorts. Conversely, under more provocative conditions, conduct-disordered youth were expected to demonstrate significantly superior impulse control, when compared to controls, as evidenced by fewer errors of commission and omission. Findings fell below statistical significance. However, the data were generally in the direction of the proposed hypothesis. Increasing the sample size, and re-classifying subjects into pre-adolescent and adolescent subgroups would greatly increase the utility of this line of inquiry.