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Considerable research documents that even young children possess stigma about mental illness, which may affect how they evaluate peers with mental health conditions. This study examined children’s pre-existing perceptions of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) behaviors as predictors of their subsequent sociometric judgments of classmates with ADHD in a 2-week summer day camp. Participants were previously unacquainted children ages 6.8–9.8 years (113 typically-developing and 24 with ADHD; 48.2% boys; 81% White). Children initially more inclined to interact with a hypothetical classmate with ADHD gave fewer “dislike” nominations to real-life classmates with ADHD at camp. Children who initially believed that ADHD symptoms were uncontrollable gave more “dislike” nominations and lower liking ratings to classmates with ADHD when those classmates displayed severe ADHD symptoms. For children who had ADHD, their attribution of uncontrollability for ADHD symptoms predicted fewer “like” nominations and more “dislike” nominations given to classmates with ADHD. Lastly, children who initially reported they would help a hypothetical classmate with ADHD gave higher liking ratings to classmates with ADHD. These results were found after statistical control of the actual level of ADHD behaviors displayed by the classmates with ADHD. In summary, other children’s pre-existing or stigmatizing perceptions of ADHD behaviors may contribute, in part, to the substantial peer rejection typically experienced by ADHD populations. Findings have implications for understanding peer problems in children with this common mental health condition.
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- Pre-existing Perceptions of ADHD Predict Children’s Sociometrics Given to Classmates with ADHD
Jennifer Jiwon Na
Amori Yee Mikami
- Springer US