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Urgency is the tendency to make impulsive decisions under extreme positive or negative emotional states. Stress, gender and impulsive personality traits are all known to influence decision-making, but no studies have examined the interplay of all of these factors. We exposed 78 men and women to a stress or a non-stress condition, and then administered the Balloon Analogue Risk Task. We found that stress effects varied as a function of gender and urgency traits. Under stress, women low in negative urgency and men high in negative urgency made fewer risky decisions. Positive urgency yielded a similar pattern. Thus, decisions under stress depend on a complex interplay between gender and impulsive personality traits. These findings have implications for clinical disorders, such as substance use disorders, in which there are known deficits in decision-making and high levels of impulsive traits.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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