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Do Stress and Depression Combined Heighten Impulsivity?

Living during a global pandemic has caused people around the world to experience heightened levels of stress and depression. These two factors negatively impact the prefrontal cortex, which is the region of the brain responsible for impulsivity. Stress and depression separately effect impulsivity. We set out to determine whether the two factors combined would increase impulsivity levels. Seventeen undergraduate students from Westfield State University voluntarily participated in this study. Their levels of depression were measured using the Beck’s Depression Inventory and their levels of stress were measured using Perceived Stress Scale. Participants were categorized into groups based on their scores. Their impulsivity levels were measured using a Go/ No-Go task. Once data was collected, effects of depression on impulsivity were evaluated using a t-test. The effects of stress were evaluated using a One-way ANOVA. Results showed no significant effect of either factor on impulsivity. These results led the researchers to conclude that stress and depression did not increase impulsivity levels in participants. Therefore, the original hypothesis was not supported. Bringing awareness to the effects of impulsivity may be beneficial towards helping people make more cautious decisions. In the future we would like to conduct this study in person as opposed to virtually. Conducting this experiment in person would help prevent complications due to virtual administration of this experiment that would not occur if privy to face to face communication.