Kristin Fuchs

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master Of Arts In Clinical Psychology

Colleges & School

College Of Arts And Sciences

First Advisor

Gregory Jurenec, PhD

Library of Congress Subject Heading

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; Sex discrimination; Interaction analysis in education; Teachers Attitudes; Racism


Attention Deficit -Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that is usually manifested in early childhood. Due to the often disruptive nature of the symptomotology it is usually noticed by parents and school staff in preschool or early elementary school. Diagnosis requires relative judgments of various dimensions of behavior, by different people, across different settings. Previous research has suggested common patterns in the referral and diagnosis of ADHD on the basis of gender, symptom type and ethnicity. Considering that most referrals of ADHD come from parents or teachers whose judgments are based on subjective observations in the school or home, the purpose of this study is to investigate possible biases in ADHD identification and referral. Based on prior research, it was hypothesized that ethnically matched teachers will more often rate students of their same ethnicity as in need for evaluation and treatment of ADHD. The second hypothesis was that children exhibiting symptoms of the hyperactivity subtype will more often be seen as in need of referral than those with symptoms of the inattentive subtype. Lastly it was hypothesized that the finding of gender bias toward boys will be replicated. This study used 39 teachers from the greater Milwaukee area teaching at suburban schools. Participants were asked to complete a packet of 12 vignettes developed by the author, each depicting a fictional child exhibiting ADHD symptomotology. The vignettes were specifically designed to systematically vary the three variables of interest: 1) inattention vs. hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms (3 symptoms of each), 2) gender, and 3) ethnicity (African American, Hispanic or Caucasian). Consistent with prior research using African American and Hispanic students it was found that white teachers rated white children as more likely to have ADHD than African American and Hispanic children with the same symptoms. Teachers rated children with hyperactive symptoms as more likely to have ADHD than children with inattentive symptoms. While girls were not necessarily rated as less likely to have ADHD there was an apparent interaction between gender and the decision to refer for evaluation and treatment.


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OCLC Number