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THE BENEFITS OF USING THE UPPS MODEL OF
IMPULSIVITY RATHER THAN THE BIG FIVE
WHEN ASSESSING THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN PERSONALITY AND PROBLEM
Brunborg et al.’srecentpaperfocusesontherelevance
of personality factors associated with problem gambling
(PG) in a study in which personality traits were examined
along with subclinical gambling problems in a large-scale
epidemiological sample. The study offers new insights into
speciﬁc personality traits associated with PG, namely high
neuroticism and low conscientiousness . If these traits
are indeed the most relevant personalitydimensions linked
to PG, then in our communication we would like to suggest
using the UPPS model of impulsivity  as a more suitable
framework to help us understand the relationship between
personality and PG, rather than the Big Five model .
Based on the UPPS model [2,4], impulsivity is an
umbrella construct reﬂected by four distinct dimensions:
(i) negative urgency, deﬁned as the tendency to act rashly
while faced with intense negative emotional contexts
(emotion-laden impulsivity); (ii) premeditation, deﬁned as
the tendency to take into account the consequences of an
act before engaging in that act; (iii) perseverance, deﬁned
as the ability to remain focused on a task that may be
boring and/or difﬁcult; and (iv) sensation-seeking,
considered as a tendency to enjoy and pursue activities
that are exciting and openness to trying new experiences.
In relation to the arguments developed in the current
letter, it is important to emphasize that each factor has
an analogue among the facets of the Big Five personality
Negative urgency is related strongly to neuroticism
(and not to conscientiousness, as stated erroneously by
Brunborg et al. ). Furthermore, according to Settles
et al. , negative urgency explains variance in exter-
nalizing behaviours beyond that accounted for by other
personality factors that correlate strongly with
neuroticism. Moreover, it has been shown that urgency is
the impulsivity facet that distinguishes more strongly
between treatment-seeking pathological gamblers and
matched control participants . However, in comparison
to neuroticism, negative urgency is a narrower construct
that has been linked to speciﬁc executive and affective
mechanisms (e.g. poor pre-potent response inhibition,
heightened emotion reactivity) [7,8], allowing the
development of more focused prevention and treatment
Premeditation and perseverance relate, respectively, to
the ‘deliberation’and ‘self-discipline’facets of conscien-
tiousness. These two UPPS components rely upon distinct
underlying mechanisms , which are not linked identi-
cally to PG . In fact, the lack of premeditation has been
associated with poor decision-making abilities, which is an
established hallmark of PG [12,13], whereas the lack of
perseverance has been linked rather to attentional
processes that are not necessary altered in PG. Accordingly,
it is not surprising that low premeditation (but not low
perseverance) is elevated in PG. It is thus likely that
screening tools able to distinguish between premeditation
and perseverance are more relevant in relation to the
prevention and treatment of PG than measures capturing
only a broad and multi-determined construct of conscien-
tiousness (such as the one used in Brunborg et al.).
Finally, the construct of sensation-seeking (as measured
by the UPPS) is probably more relevant in relation to PG
than the broader construct of extraversion (measured by
the Big Five and unrelated to PG in Brunborg et al.).
Indeed, although linked inconsistently to PG per se,a
heightened level of sensation-seeking has been associated
consistently with certain gambling preferences (e.g.
gambling frequency, favoured types of games) [14,15],
and thus constitutes relevant information when tailoring
prevention efforts in gamblers (for example, in relation to
Declaration of interests
Keywords Gambling, impulsivity, personality,
treatment, UPPS, urgency.
& JOËL BILLIEUX
Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, University of
Padova, Padova, Italy
National Problem Gambling Clinic, London,
and Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological
Science Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain,
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Problem gambling and the Five Factor model of personality:
a large population-based study. Addiction 2016; 111:
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372 Letters to the Editor
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© 2016 Society for the Study of Addiction Addiction,112,370–373
Letters to the Editor 373