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Racial Differences Between Black Parents’ and White Teachers’ Perceptions of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Behavior


Previous research suggests there may be racial differences in how adults rate children’s ADHD behavior. Differences in perceptions of Black parents and White teachers could have implications for ADHD diagnosis of Black children. This study compared ADHD ratings of Black parents to White teachers, and examined factors that may explain racial differences. Participants included 71 Black parents (65 women, 6 men; Mage = 33.92) and 60 White teachers (41 women, 19 men; Mage = 33.60), as well as a comparison group of 65 White parents (49 women, 16 men; Mage = 36.83). Participants watched video clips of children in classrooms and rated ADHD behaviors and ADHD likelihood. They then completed questionnaires regarding beliefs about ADHD stigma, verve (movement expressiveness), experiences with racial discrimination, and racial attitudes. White teachers rated Black boys’ ADHD behaviors and their likelihood of having ADHD higher than Black parents. White teachers with more negative racial attitudes toward African Americans gave higher ADHD behavior and likelihood ratings to Black boys than did teachers with less negative racial attitudes. Across all participants, ADHD stigma beliefs and verve were not related to ratings of Black boys. Black parents with more experiences with racial discrimination gave higher ratings to Black boys’ ADHD behaviors. Research is necessary to further explain the mechanisms by which discrepancies in ratings of Black boys’ ADHD behaviors exist between Black and White adults to inform culturally sensitive assessment and diagnosis of ADHD in Black children.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    The two orders were 1) White Boy, Black Boy, Asian Boy, White Girl, Black Girl, Latina Girl, White Girl, Black Boy, White Boy, and Black Boy; 2) Black Boy, White Boy, Asian Boy, Black Girl, White Girl, Latina Girl, Black Girl, White Girl, Black Boy, White Boy.

  2. 2.

    Exploring ratings of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity separately showed similar patterns of findings so the combined ADHD symptoms variable was used for all analyses.

  3. 3.

    To explore if these findings varied across participants of different genders, adult gender was entered as a factor in the ANOVA models. Adult gender did not significantly interact with any other factor, suggesting no adult gender differences in the overall pattern of findings.


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Correspondence to Sungha Kang.

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Kang, S., Harvey, E.A. Racial Differences Between Black Parents’ and White Teachers’ Perceptions of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Behavior. J Abnorm Child Psychol 48, 661–672 (2020).

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  • ADHD
  • Assessment
  • Race
  • Racial disparity
  • Informant discrepancy