Posted by Kangna Agarwal on January 09, 2010

Impulsive behavior can lead to many problems and may even adversely affect one’s health, relationships or cause emotional distress.

Researchers from the University College London (UCL) surveyed 40,000 people to come up with these findings.

For the study, the subjects were questioned whether they would prefer an amount of £45 in three days or £70 in three months.

Analysis of the survey revealed that nearly half of the participants preferred the lesser amount.

They immediately wanted to use this amount in buying a cake or puff a cigarette than thinking about the long-term ill effects of these foods on their health or relationships.

"Those who decline £70 in three months in favor of £45 in three days are essentially turning down an interest rate that's hundreds of times what they'd get on the high street,” the researchers noted. This may begin to explain why some people are reluctant or unable to save money.

Most of these people who showed impulsive responses were young, had a poor educational status as well as low income, the researchers noted.

Those who showed impulsive responses had no self-control
It was also found that these participants had no self-control; neither could they conquer their compulsive behavior. They were also unable to save money and were more likely to have a series of affairs in recent years.

Likewise they were also found to be impulsive in other areas of their lives.

The researchers hypothesized that the desire of immediate gratification prompted such an impulsive behavior among the participants.

"Our research shows that people with an impulsive money-today attitude ignore the future in other ways,” lead researcher Dr Stian Reimers, from UCL, said.

"For example, they are more likely to smoke and more likely to be overweight, which may reflect a preference for immediate pleasure of nicotine and food over long-term good health," he said.

Simple techniques may cure impulsive behavior
The researchers opine that simple techniques can help in overcoming such impulsive behaviors. For instance, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) focusing on building skills may help in checking the impulsive behaviors.

Mindfulness, one of the skills taught via DBT, may help those suffering from an impulsive behavior to be cautious of their actions and take time to consider the consequences of the same.

"Simple techniques can help reduce impulsive behavior, like imagining how you'd feel about your decision in a year's time or trying to avoid making decisions in the heat of the moment,” Reimers concluded.

The study appears in the Journal The Personality and Individual Differences.

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