Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Tammy D. Barry, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been addressed in a few studies as it relates to social cognition deficiency. Throughout these studies, it seems as if affect recognition may be linked to ADHD through deficits in the development of social skills. The current study tests to see if this mediation may also involve the influence of adaptability in children. It was hypothesized that poorer affect recognition would relate to ADHD symptoms in preschoolers and that this effect would occur indirectly by influencing the children’s adaptability and social skills. A heterogeneous sample of 71 three to five year-old preschoolers participated. Children were administered the NEPSY (a neuropsychological battery designed for children), with the Affect Recognition subtest being of interest. Parents completed the parent version of the Behavioral Assessment System for Children-2nd edition, which included measures of ADHD symptoms, adaptability, and social skills. Two serial mediation models indicated that affect recognition related to ADHD symptoms (attention problems and hyperactivity) indirectly through adaptability and social skills. Only the serial mediation indirect effect was significant, indicating that lower affect recognition related to lower adaptability, which subsequently related to lower social skills and then to higher ADHD symptoms in preschoolers. These findings have important clinical implications in understanding the mechanism of how affect recognition may impact ADHD symptoms in young preschoolers. Furthermore, it can inform early interventions for young children who may be at risk for ADHD symptoms by providing a point of intervention.

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