Sociology Faculty Publications and Presentations

Challenges From and Beyond Symptomatology: Stereotype Threat in Young Adults With ADHD

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Objective: Stereotype threat—faced when one confronts a personally relevant stereotype in a domain-relevant context—can significantly jeopardize individual performance in test-taking situations. Research has overlooked the potential for mental health labels to serve as bases for stereotype threat in such situations. This study examines whether ADHD, a disorder frequently serving as a basis for standardized testing accommodation, may trigger stereotype threat in testing situations.

Method: Drawing from a sample of 114 participants (53 reporting a history of ADHD and 61 not reporting a history of ADHD), this study considers whether stereotype threat invoked on the basis of ADHD hinders performance on Graduate Record Examination (GRE) questions beyond the impact of symptomatology.

Results: Participants reporting ADHD achieved significantly lower scores on verbal and quantitative GRE questions than participants without ADHD. Participants between the ages of 18 and 24 reporting ADHD who were explicitly exposed to stereotype threat achieved significantly lower scores on quantitative GRE questions than their ADHD-reporting peers who were not explicitly exposed to stereotype threat.

Conclusion: Domain-relevant mental health labels may trigger stereotype threat in test-taking situations.


© The Author(s) 2015

Publication Title

Journal of Attention Disorders