Rethinking self-control and crime: Are all forms of impulsivity criminogenic?

Publication Title

European Journal of Criminology

Document Type


Department or Program


Publication Date



delinquency, dysfunctional impulsivity, functional impulsivity, Impulsivity, self-control


Traditionally, criminological research on impulsivity and crime assumes impulsivity is a uniform construct that is positively related to deviant behavior. However, psychological research on impulsivity indicates that the construct may have multiple forms, which vary in their relationship to antisocial behavior. One possibility that few studies have examined is whether some forms of impulsivity are unrelated, or negatively related, to antisocial behavior. This study uses Dickman’s (1990) functional and dysfunctional impulsivity scales and finds that dysfunctional impulsivity is a better predictor of crime than functional impulsivity, but does not differ for substance use or school deviance. These results highlight ways that impulsivity measures can be refined in the future.