Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 451–466 | Cite as

Aggression in boys with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder: Methylphenidate effects on naturalistically observed aggression, response to provocation, and social information processing

  • Debra A. Murphy
  • William E. Pelham
  • Alan R. Lang


High and low-aggressive boys with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were compared and the effects of methylphenidate were examined on measures from three domains of aggression: (1) directly observed verbal and nonverbal aggressive behaviors exhibited in the context of a day treatment program, (2) aggressive responding when provoked during a laboratory task, and (3) social information processing patterns exhibited on tasks designed to tap the putative cognitive components of aggression. The high-aggressive (HA) and low-aggressive (LA) subgroups differed significantly on observational measures of aggression and on the laboratory provocation task, but the HA group showed more deviant cognitions on only one of the numerous measures of social information processing. Regarding medication effects on the direct observation measures, methylphenidate decreased aggression for both subgroups. On the laboratory provocation task, methylphenidate had only minimal effects. Significant drug effects were obtained on only two recall social information processing measures.


Aggressive Behavior Methylphenidate Medication Effect Processing Measure Minimal Effect 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra A. Murphy
    • 1
  • William E. Pelham
    • 2
  • Alan R. Lang
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health ScienceMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukee
  2. 2.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicPittsburgh
  3. 3.Florida State UniversityTallahassee

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