Yaugher, Ashley Christine (2017-07). Risk-Taking Behaviors and Impulsivity in Emerging Adults Born Prematurely. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Recently there has been an increase in research focusing on the role of sleep in psychological disorders in adolescents and young adults due to both increases in risk-taking behaviors and continued brain development during this period. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to extend findings of a master's thesis suggesting a relationship between subjective and objective measures of sleep and externalizing disorders in young adults in a community setting to a vulnerable population (i.e., emerging adults born prematurely). Measures include sleep behavior (Actigraphy, PSQI), birth status, objective measures of impulsivity and risk-taking (CPT-II, BART, Eye-Tracking), and subjective measures of both internalizing and externalizing disorder traits (TriPM, BIS 11, PAI scales, BPS). A total of 227 participants completed the study, including 71 men (premature n = 32) and 156 women (premature n = 103). Participants in the sample showed high average percentages of sleep (M = 91.91%) and few participants reported clinically elevated scores on the measures (<= 13.45%), as would be expected. Results extend previous findings that both externalizing (i.e., psychopathy as measured by the TriPM) and internalizing (i.e., depression as measured by the PAI) traits decrease subjective sleep quality (i.e., PSQI scores). Results show that on average women born prematurely report increased internalizing traits compared with full term women and men born preterm or full term; while men born prematurely report lower levels of antisocial traits and behaviors (i.e., more female typical) when compared to full term men but still higher levels compared to women born preterm or full term. Results further suggest that premature birth status is associated with significantly lower rates of antisocial traits, particularly when severity of premature birth increases (i.e., fewer weeks of gestation). The community population and birth status is often not of focus in sleep research with the exception of sleep disordered breathing, and thus findings add to our understanding of this vulnerable population in emerging adults born prematurely who are attending college.

publication date

  • July 2017