The Relations between an Inventory-Based Measure of Executive Function and Impulsivity Factors in Alcohol- and Cannabis-Relevant Outcomes
Objective: While the lack of relation between performance- and inventory-based executive function (EF) measures is well documented, there remains ambiguity between self-report EFs and closely related constructs (e.g., impulsivity) assessed via the same method. The degree of convergence between purported EF measures with similar yet distinct constructs contain important theoretical implications for available EF assessment strategies and their construct validity. A newer measure of EF, the Behavior Regulation Inventory of Executive Functions—Adult (BRIEF-A), allows for more direct comparisons to self-reported measures of impulsivity, such as the commonly used Urgency, Planning, Perseverance, Sensation Seeking—Positive Urgency (UPPS-P) assessment.
Method: The present study used factor analysis and hierarchical regression to explore the associations between the BRIEF-A and UPPS-P, using alcohol and cannabis consumption across various outcomes (i.e., quantity-frequency and consequences) as an external criterion. Participants were 339 undergraduate students (Mage = 19.35; Female = 63%) from a large southwestern university.
Results: The BRIEF-A and UPPS-P demonstrated strong correlations at both higher- and lower order facets. While the BRIEF-A was a significant correlate to many substance use outcomes, these relations were generally weaker than those seen with the UPPS-P. Hierarchical regression suggested limited contributions of the BRIEF-A over and above the UPPS-P.
Conclusions: Overall, this study suggested substantial overlap between impulsigenic factors and EFs when measured by self-report, and limited utility of EF measures to account for unique variance with substance use outcomes in this sample.