Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Stigma is a stereotyped judgement of a group of people (e.g. people with a mental illness; Goffman, 1963). Mentally ill individuals are often assumed to be dangerous, irresponsible, or incapable of taking care of themselves (Rüsch et al., 2005). The type of judgement and the level to which individuals are judged is influenced by the sociodemographic factors of the observer as well as the stigmatized individual (Martin et al., 2007). Additionally, in some cases people judge those with mental illness as having strengths; for example, believing people with bipolar disorder to be particularly creative (Galvez et al., 2011; Kiume, 2017). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Adults with ADHD often have problems with underachievement at work or in school (Kooij et al., 2019). In addition to the challenges of ADHD itself, people with ADHD may be judged by others as careless, stupid, or faking the disorder, which can discourage them from seeking the support they need to be successful (Law et al., 2007; Lefler et al., 2016). Although there is some research showing that there is stigma toward adults with ADHD, the existing literature is very limited regarding the demographic factors of the observer, as well any potential strengths attributed to individuals with ADHD. In this study, I measured the relation between an observer’s sex and their positive and negative attitudes toward adults with ADHD via three measures: a) a stigma measure (i.e., the Questionnaire on Stigmatizing Attitudes toward Adults with ADHD; QPS; Fuermaier et al., 2012), b) a Semantic Differential measure (based on Osgood et al., 1957), and c) a strengths measure (i.e., a modified version of the Values in Action Global Assessment of Character Strengths-24; GACS-24; VIA Institute on Character, 2018). The mean for the stigma measure was above the scale midpoint, suggesting low levels of stigma in the overall sample. Women had higher stigma measure scores compared to men, suggesting lower stigma. Overall scores on the Semantic Differential measure indicated that participants believed adults with ADHD to have the favorable traits of being more honest than dishonest, more responsible than irresponsible, more intelligent than unintelligent, while having the unfavorable traits of being more disorganized than organized, and more careless than careful. Men considered adults with ADHD to be more responsible, more organized, and more careful compared to women, while women considered adults with ADHD to be more intelligent compared to men. Mean scores were above the midpoint for the strengths measure composite and all factors, suggesting a belief that adults with ADHD exhibit all sets of strengths. Men had a higher score on the Temperance factor of the strengths measure compared to women, suggesting a greater belief that adults with ADHD exhibit that strength. Exploratory analyses were also conducted. A discussion of the implications of this research includes anti-stigma campaigns and self-stigma interventions.

Keywords: ADHD, stigma, strength, perceptions, adults

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Elizabeth Lefler, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 88 pages)



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