Examining Self-Perceptions of Competence in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Emeh, Christina, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Teachman, Bethany, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Mikami, Amori, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often overestimate their competence related to their social and behavioral abilities when compared to ratings of their actual competence as assessed by adults (Owens, Goldfine, Evangelista, Hoza, & Kaiser, 2007). The inflation of child self-report of competence is known as Positive Illusory Bias (PIB). PIB is larger in children with ADHD than in typically-developing (TD) children. Previous research has only calculated PIB using rankings of child competence using explicit measures. Large explicit PIB has been found to be negatively correlated with depression (Hoza et al., 2010), but positively correlated with aggression (Hoza, et al., 2004) in children with and without ADHD. However, to the researchers’ knowledge, PIB has not been assessed using implicit measures, making one important goal of the current study to evaluate whether the perceptions of competence that reside outside of a child’s conscious control or awareness, or implicitly, also suggest the existence of PIB related to social and behavioral competence in children with ADHD. Additionally, the current study examined whether implicit PIB incrementally predicted symptoms of psychopathology after controlling for explicit PIB in children with and without ADHD.
Children, parents, and teachers reported on the child’s social competence (social PIB) and behavioral competence (behavioral PIB) using explicit measures. Children evaluated their social and behavioral competencies compared to peers on an implicit measure. The mean score of parent and teacher reports of a child’s competence was used as the adult indicator of a child’s actual ability. PIB was conceptualized as the discrepancy between a child’s self-report of ability and the adult ranking of a child’s actual ability. Results suggested that children with ADHD have larger explicit PIB and also larger implicit PIB relative to TD children. Moreover, after statistical control of child ADHD diagnostic status, social PIB assessed using an implicit measure (implicit social PIB) was positively associated with child-rated symptoms of anxiety, but social PIB assessed using an explicit measure (explicit social PIB) was not associated with child-rated symptoms of anxiety. Also, explicit social PIB (but not implicit social PIB) was negatively associated with child-rated symptoms of depression. In turn, explicit behavioral PIB was negatively associated with child-rated symptoms of depression, but implicit behavioral PIB was positively associated with depression. The statistical interaction of implicit behavioral PIB and explicit behavioral PIB significantly predicted adult-rated externalizing symptoms, such that explicit PIB and externalizing symptoms were positively associated in children with large implicit PIB, but no relation between externalizing symptoms and explicit behavioral PIB was found for children with small implicit PIB.
Overall, the current findings advance the PIB literature through examining the existence of inflated self-perceptions of competence on a controllable, explicit measure and an uncontrollable, implicit measure within children with ADHD and TD children. Moreover, the results also examine the relation between explicit PIB and implicit PIB predicting symptoms of psychopathology and suggested that both measures of competence are associated with symptoms of psychopathology in children with and without ADHD.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
ADHD, Children, Positive Illusory Bias
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