Attributions about child behaviour: A comparison between attributions made by parents of children with ADHD and parents of children with other behavioural difficulties

Authors: Saltmarsh, R., McDougall, S. and Downey, J.

Journal: Educational and Child Psychology

Volume: 22

Pages: 108-126


The study examined whether the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children affects parental attributions and emotional responses to different types of child behaviours. The responses of parents of children with ADHD and a control group made up of parents of children with behaviour difficulties were compared.

Participants’ attributions about positive and negative (inattentive-overactive and oppositional-defiant) child behaviour were elicited. For all behaviour types, both participant groups were most likely to attribute causality to the child. When considering negative behaviours, parents of children with ADHD were less likely to consider behaviour to be intentional or under the child’s control, were less likely to report feeling angry and were more likely to report feeling frustrated than were control parents. It is proposed that these differences reflect the view of parents of children with ADHD that the disorder is a causal factor in their children’s negative behaviour. The results are discussed in terms of attribution theory.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Sine McDougall