Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rita J. Casey, Ph.D.


The study investigated the emotional competence in children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), explored the possibility of differences between the behavior of parents of children with and without ADHD, and considered the relevance of classifying children into groups of normal/nonpathological, mild/moderate ADHD, and severe ADHD. It was hypothesized that, compared to normal children, children with ADHD would demonstrate specific deficits in both emotion appraisal and emotion regulation. It was also anticipated that the level of emotional competence deficits would be related to the severity of ADHD. Eighty (44 ADHD and 36 normal) children and their parents participated in a puzzle box assembly game which was designed to serve as both a frustration and success task. Children with ADHD were found to be better able to identify emotion in a negative social situation as compared to non-ADHD children. No differences were found between the groups in their ability to assess emotion in a positive social situation or acontextual task. Children diagnosed with ADHD were also better able than non-ADHD children in their ability to match their own emotion with its pictorial representation for the negative emotion condition. In addition, ADHD children demonstrated higher levels of frustration during a positive social situation. It was also found that children with mild/moderate ADHD displayed the highest level of negativity. Parents of ADHD children and non-ADHD children did not differ in terms of task-interfering behaviors, frustration management, instruction, joint participation, negative parenting, or positive parenting. However, when level of ADHD symptomatology was taken into consideration, differences were found between the groups, with parents of children with mild/moderate ADHD displaying the lowest level of joint-participation and positive parenting in a positive social situation. Symptom severity was a useful distinguishing factor for a few of the variables (e.g., parent emotion-regulation variables). Possible explanations for the findings as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.