Self-Perception of Competencies in Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorders
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The current set of studies adds to the growing body of literature of self-perceptions in atypical populations. Previous research has demonstrated that, despite significant functional problems in multiple domains, children with ADHD unexpectedly provide overly-positive reports of their own competence in comparison to actual performance on objective measures. Study 1 empirically examined the self-perceptions of adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) using performance on individual, specific, concrete tasks as the basis for participants’ ratings of competence. Participants completed a verbal and mathematic task and were asked how well they thought they did prior to completing the tasks (pre-prediction rating). After they completed each task they were asked how well they thought they did (current post-performance) and how well they thought they would do in the future (future post-performance). For the purpose of the study, self-perceptions can be described as the difference between perceived performance and actual performance. These difference scores were used in analyses. Results suggested that adolescents with ADHD tend to have more positively-biased self-perceptions than typically developing (TD) adolescents. The current study also examined the role that IQ and executive functioning have on self-perceptions; however, no significant relationships were found. Using the same methodology, Study 2 examined the self-perceptions of adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). By examining a population with similar cognitive deficits as individuals with ADHD, the current study aimed to determine whether these positively-biased self-perceptions are specific to ADHD or if it is a phenomenon related to more general difficulties or dysfunction. Results suggested that adolescents with ASD also tended to have more positively-biased self-perceptions than TD adolescents. In adolescents with ASD, lower IQ and greater executive functioning deficits tended to be related to more positively-biased self-perceptions. Limitations of this research are discussed. Future investigation is needed to systematically examine other possible mechanisms that may be contributing to these biased self-perceptions.