Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Sara Sytsma Jordan

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Tammy D. Barry

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Bradley A. Green

Committee Member 3 Department

Psychology

Abstract

ADHD symptoms have been linked empirically to both social perception deficits as well as impairments in social skills and adaptability. The current study built on existing literature by examining whether social perception abilities indirectly predicted social skills and adaptability through ADHD symptoms in preschool-aged children. The sample consisted of 3- to 6-year-old children attending Head Start Programs and private preschools (N = 76). It was expected that social perception abilities would positively relate to both social skills and adaptability. It was also expected that these relations would occur indirectly through ADHD symptoms. Specifically, social perception abilities would relate negatively to ADHD symptoms, which, in turn, would relate negatively to both social skills and adaptability. Although not all hypothesized relations in the model were supported, an indirect effect of social perception abilities on social skills and adaptability through ADHD symptoms was supported. Furthermore, for parent-report, the mediational model was most clear when attention problems were isolated as the mediator. These findings suggest that ADHD symptoms—particularly attention problems—are important to consider in the complex relation of social perception abilities and negative outcomes, such as deficits in social skills and adaptability. The results also provide some support for social perception deficits as one of the underlying factors that contribute to the social difficulties often seen in children with ADHD. Finally, these findings also highlight a point of intervention (or even prevention in young children), given that minimizing ADHD symptoms may disrupt the indirect link of social perception deficits on these negative outcomes.

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