Purpose in life, urgency, and the propensity to engage in risky and self-destructive behaviors

Kaylin Ratner, Sabrina E. Porcelli, Anthony L. Burrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this preregistered analysis of existing data, we explored whether the association between urgency—a mood-based impulsivity—and risky and self-destructive behavior engagement is moderated by a sense of purpose in life. Results indicated positive associations between positive and negative urgency and recent risk behavior, and negative associations between a sense of purpose and recent risk behavior. For over 90% of the sample, purpose evidenced significant interaction effects with both negative and positive urgency, predicting fewer past-month risk behaviors (both the total number reported and the diversity of behaviors therein). Analyses by subdomain revealed that these interaction effects were most apparent in models predicting recent self-harm and heavy alcohol use. Explanations for this pattern of results and future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-73
Number of pages15
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion regulation
  • Impulsivity
  • Purpose in life
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Urgency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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