The New York Times has an article which examines the sometimes contradictory psychology of impulsivity.
Doing new things is often among lists which promise us ‘ways to happiness’ in magazines and books, and yet problems with impulse control have been cited as a major factor in everything from ADHD to drug and gambling addiction.
One problem for researchers is this type of impulsiveness is not present in every facet of life and can be quite difficult to pin-down experimentally.
One reason true impulsivity has been difficult to capture in the lab, said Dr. Martha Farrah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, is precisely because “it is most manifest in these very high-stakes situations, when people are trying to get what they want, to stay focused, maybe trying to kick a drug habit.” And that is when they break down.
Link to ‘Living on Impulse’.