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01-08-2014 | Uitgave 6/2014

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 6/2014

ADHD Symptoms and Attachment Representations: Considering the Role of Conduct Problems, Cognitive Deficits and Narrative Responses in Non-Attachment-Related Story Stems

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 6/2014
Sara Scholtens, Ann-Margret Rydell, Gunilla Bohlin, Lisa B. Thorell
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Author Note

This research was supported by a grant from The Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research to Gunilla Bohlin


The overall aim of the present study was to investigate ADHD symptoms in relation to attachment representations. We used both attachment- and non-attachment-related story stems, which allowed us to investigate whether problems with narrative production can explain the relation between ADHD symptoms and attachment representations. We also investigated the role of cognitive deficits and conduct problems in these relations. The sample consisted of 89 children (27 % girls) between 6 and 10 years old, with an oversampling of children with high levels of ADHD symptoms. ADHD symptoms and conduct problems were rated by parents and teachers. Cognitive functioning was investigated using laboratory tests of inhibition, working memory and sustained attention. Attachment representations were coded as secure, organized insecure and disorganized categories. Narrative responses to non-attachment-related story stems were coded for incoherence and negative content. Results showed that children in the disorganized attachment category had significantly higher levels of ADHD symptoms compared to those in the secure category. Both ADHD symptoms and disorganized attachment were related to incoherence and negative content. Attachment representations were not associated with ADHD symptoms when controlling for negative content in response to non-attachment-related story stems. These results suggest that the associations between attachment security and ADHD are yet to be fully understood. Importantly, a propensity to envisage negative events seems to characterize children with high levels of ADHD symptoms.

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