Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Thesis (UNI Access Only)


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; Oppositional defiant disorder in children; Conduct disorders in children;


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental condition typically first diagnosed in childhood (APA, 2013). ADHD is often misperceived as similar but distinct childhood disorders, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD). The evidence-based diagnostic process for these disorders often includes ratings from adults in the child’s life to assess behavior across settings (Rimvall, Jeppesen, & Verhulst, 2018). Researchers have identified negative halo effects in adult ratings of ADHD and ODD (Abikoff, Courtney, Pelham, & Koplewicz, 1993; DeVries, Hartung, & Golden, 2017; Hartung, Van Pelt, Armendariz, & Knight, 2006; Hartung et al., 2010; Jackson & King, 2004; Schachar, Sandberg, & Rutter, 1986; Stevens, Quittner, & Abikoff, 1998). The current study extended past research to examine negative halo effects in parent ratings of ADHD, ODD, and CD. Parents read one of four vignettes that portrayed an 11-year-old boy displaying symptoms of ADHD, ODD, CD, or typical development, and then completed a disruptive behavior scale. There were three main findings: (1) a unidirectional negative halo effect between ADHD and ODD such that parents erroneously rated a child presenting with ODD symptoms as also having ADHD symptoms, (2) a unidirectional negative halo effect between ODD and CD such that parents erroneously rated a child presenting with CD symptoms as also having ODD symptoms, and (3) no negative halo effects between ADHD symptoms and CD symptoms. These findings explain and validate how important it is that clinicians conduct evidence-based psychological assessments throughout the diagnostic process to decrease the chance of misdiagnosis.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Elizabeth Lefler, Chair, Thesis Committee

Second Advisor

Seth Brown, Thesis Committee Member

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 109 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Friday, April 21, 2023

Off-Campus Download