Young adults (ages 18-26) with (n = 20) and without (n = 55) a history of child abuse (CA) completed self-report and laboratory-based measures of impulsivity and risk-taking. Relative to individuals without abuse histories, individuals with a history of CA self-reported a greater number of lifetime sexual partners as well as elevated trait impulsivity (specifically, elevated lack of premeditation and lack of perseverance). No group differences were observed for self-reported safety-related behaviors and risk-taking propensity. Notably, however, laboratory-based measures suggested that individuals with a history of CA showed significantly less impulsivity and risk-taking than individuals without abuse histories. These results suggest that self-report and laboratory measures of risk-taking and impulsivity measured in emerging adulthood may differentially relate to CA. Specifically, whereas laboratory-based measures may be influenced by hypervigilance or in the moment actions, self-report measures may assess more general behaviors related to real-world impulsivity and risk-taking.
© The Author(s) 2014.