This paper characterizes impulsive behavior using a patch-leaving paradigm and active inference—a framework for describing Bayes optimal behavior. This paradigm comprises different environments (patches) with limited resources that decline over time at different rates. The challenge is to decide when to leave the current patch for another to maximize reward. We chose this task because it offers an operational characterization of impulsive behavior, namely, maximizing proximal reward at the expense of future gain. We use a Markov decision process formulation of active inference to simulate behavioral and electrophysiological responses under different models and prior beliefs. Our main finding is that there are at least three distinct causes of impulsive behavior, which we demonstrate by manipulating three different components of the Markov decision process model. These components comprise (i) the depth of planning, (ii) the capacity to maintain and process information, and (iii) the perceived value of immediate (relative to delayed) rewards. We show how these manipulations change beliefs and subsequent choices through variational message passing. Furthermore, we appeal to the process theories associated with this message passing to simulate neuronal correlates. In future work, we will use this scheme to identify the prior beliefs that underlie different sorts of impulsive behavior—and ask whether different causes of impulsivity can be inferred from the electrophysiological correlates of choice behavior.