Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

School

Psychology

Committee Chair

Stephanie D. Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Chair School

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Nora E. Charles, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2 School

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Ashley B. Batastini Ph.D.

Committee Member 3 School

Psychology

Abstract

Youth with ADHD are disproportionately at-risk for engaging in criminality and aggression relative to the general population, and this may be a function of underlying executive function deficits associated with self-regulation. More specifically, youth with ADHD may be susceptible to difficulties with behavioral regulation (impulsivity) and emotional regulation (e.g., managing feelings of anger). The current study sought to expand on previous research to examine the relationship between ADHD symptoms and aggression and the potential moderating effects of anger control among institutionalized youth. Archival data comprising a sample (N=119) of male adolescents who were admitted to a maximum-security residential facility were analyzed for the purposes of this study. Youths completed measures assessing ADHD symptoms, trait anger, and anger control upon admission. Research assistants coded rule violating behaviors across twelve behavioral categories (e.g., noncompliance, disruptive behavior) based on a categorization framework developed by the research team. Aggression was operationalized by the total number of rule violations documented by facility staff across four behavior categories (i.e., physical aggression, verbal aggression, destructive behavior, threatening behavior), and aggression toward people was operationalized as a composite measure of physical aggression and threatening behaviors. Although results revealed that youths with elevated ADHD symptomatology and higher trait anger scores were more likely to commit rule violations while initially adjusting to the facility, anger control was not found to be a moderator of the relationship between ADHD symptoms and rule violations. These findings suggest that youths with less behavioral control and a chronic tendency to feel anger are more prone to engaging in a variety of rule-violating behaviors while incarcerated.

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