Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Erik Willcutt

Second Advisor

Soo Rhee

Third Advisor

Vijay Mittal

Fourth Advisor

Tiffany Ito

Fifth Advisor

Cindy White


Objective: This study was designed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of social functioning in individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Marked impairment in social functioning is well established for children with ADHD. Yet, the social impairment often associated with the presence of ADHD symptoms is not fully characterized in the research literature. Methods: An unselected sample of children and adolescents and their parents and teachers completed a battery of measures to assess ADHD symptoms and specific aspects of social functioning, including social skills, empathy, friendship, and aggression at three different time points. Results: ADHD symptoms in children are associated with significant impairment in social functioning. The strongest associations were found for prosocial behavior and social skills, impairment with peers and adults, social cognition, and aggression, and significant but weaker associations for social acceptance and rejection, social isolation and withdrawal, affective empathy, and family relationships. Symptom dimensions and subtypes differentially predicted impairment such that inattentive symptoms were more strongly associated with shy, withdrawn, and isolating behavior whereas hyperactive/impulsive symptoms were more strongly associated with aggression. Additionally, ADHD symptoms independently predicted social impairment after controlling for comorbid psychopathology. Conclusions: Overall, the results suggest that social functioning in ADHD is impaired across a variety of domains and further study is warranted to guide future development of assessments and treatment. Results also support the concurrent and discriminant validity of the DSM-IV inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms and nominal subtypes.