Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Antshel, Kevin M.

Second Advisor

Kidwell, Katherine


ADHD, Frustration Tolerance, Risky Behaviors, Self-Control Resource Depletion, Social Functioning

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Background: ADHD prevalence rates in college students are increasing, with approximately 8.7% of college students reporting current ADHD diagnoses. College students with ADHD often have poor self-control, low frustration tolerance, and associated irritability. These associated features of ADHD are, in turn, associated with engagement in risky behaviors and social impairments.

Method: The present study used the Self-Control Strength Model as a theoretical framework to experimentally examine (a) relationships between ADHD symptoms, frustration tolerance, irritability, and self-control resource depletion and (b) associations between these variables, social functioning, and engagement in risky behaviors. College student participants (n=247) completed state and trait baseline measures, including a measure of current ADHD symptoms, and were randomized into depletion and non-depletion groups before completing two experimental tasks: the Stroop Color-Word Task (Stroop) to deplete self-control resources, and a computerized version of the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT-C) designed to induce frustration and measure frustration tolerance. Following the experimental tasks, participants completed additional state measures to determine the effects of the tasks.

Results: Linear and logistic regressions analyzed the associations between ADHD symptoms, depletion status, frustration tolerance, state irritability, and several functional outcomes. The Stroop failed to significantly deplete the self-control resources of participants in the depletion condition; thus, depletion status was not associated with either irritability or frustration tolerance. In the total sample, ADHD symptoms were associated positively with state irritability. Additionally, the interaction between ADHD symptoms and frustration tolerance was associated positively with state irritability, positively with positive social relationships, negatively with engaging in various types of non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors, and positively associated with state desire to engage in condom-less sex; however, associations were greatly driven by ADHD symptoms. Frustration tolerance was associated positively with a state desire to consume alcohol.

Discussion: Given the failure of the Stroop task in the depletion condition, the Strength Model of Self-Control cannot be fully analyzed. However, the present experimental study results provide some support for previous findings on the positive associations between ADHD symptoms, state irritability, and several functional outcomes.


Open Access



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