Perceived Stigma and the Positive Illusory Bias in Children with ADHD: A Novel Test of the Self-Protection Hypothesis
Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Kevin M. Antshel
ADHD, Children, Positive Illusory Bias, Self-Perceptions, Stigma
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Background: Despite displaying significant functional impairments across a variety of domains, children with ADHD have been found to overestimate their academic, social, and behavioral competence. This phenomenon has been termed positive illusory bias (PIB). The self-protection theory of PIB in ADHD suggests that PIB may function as a coping mechanism, allowing children with ADHD to defend themselves against feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. The present study aims 1) to test the self-protection theory of PIB in children with ADHD by examining the relationship between perceived stigma and PIB in the social and academic domains, and 2) to examine how age, gender, race/ethnicity, ADHD symptomology, and comorbid symptomology are associated with PIB.
Method: Data were collected from 90 children (22 with ADHD and 68 without) ages 8-13 and their mothers through an online survey. 70% of children were white non-Hispanic (59% of children with ADHD, 74% of children without ADHD), and 44% were female (9% of children with ADHD, 53% of children without ADHD). Surveys measured child reported depression and anxiety symptoms, perceptions of stigma, and self-perceived competence in academic and social domains, and parent-reported ADHD symptoms, aggression, and competence in social and academic domains. Social and academic PIB’s were calculated by creating standardized discrepancy scores between child-reported competence and parent-reported competence in social and academic domains.
Results: There was a small effect of ADHD status on academic PIB, but not on social PIB. Inattentive symptoms were associated with marginally greater academic PIB and aggression was associated with marginally greater social PIB, while depressive symptoms were associated with significantly reduced PIB in the social domain and marginally reduced PIB in the academic domain, and anxiety symptoms were associated with significantly reduced PIB in the academic domain. There was a significant interaction between racial/ethnic minority status and ADHD status for academic PIB, whereby for children with ADHD, racial/ethnic minority status was associated with lower academic PIB, while for children without ADHD, racial/ethnic minority status was associated with greater academic PIB. Perceived stigma was associated with significantly reduced PIB in both academic and social domains, across children with and without ADHD.
Conclusions: Personal characteristics such as race and comorbid symptomology may be important for understanding who is more or less likely to display PIB. Children who perceive greater stigma for their problem behaviors may be less likely to display PIB.
Albert, Avery Brooke, "Perceived Stigma and the Positive Illusory Bias in Children with ADHD: A Novel Test of the Self-Protection Hypothesis" (2019). Theses - ALL. 368.