Stigma and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: negative perceptions and anger emotional reactions mediate the link between active symptoms and social distance

  • Jocelyn I. MezaEmail author
  • Maria Monroy
  • Ruofan Ma
  • Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton
Original Article


This study aimed to understand the contributions of active ADHD symptoms and the diagnostic label of ADHD in yielding negative attitudes and social distance ratings. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (n = 305), respondents were assigned to read a vignette about: (a) a typically developing child, (b) a child with active ADHD symptoms and (c) a child with active ADHD symptoms + diagnostic label. Participants were then asked to answer questions about their beliefs and feelings about the child in the vignette. The active ADHD symptom condition predicted higher levels of social distance, and this link was mediated by negative and animalistic adjective ratings, and by angry emotions felt by the participants after reading the vignettes. Our findings suggest that ADHD symptoms drive negative views and social distance and that an ADHD label may serve as a protective factor to help people overcome biases related to childhood ADHD. ADHD symptom literacy and contact with children with varying levels of ADHD symptoms may be an important target to help reduce negative attitudes.


ADHD Stigma Social distance 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jocelyn I. Meza
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Monroy
    • 1
  • Ruofan Ma
    • 2
  • Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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