Paying Attention to ADHD as a Predictor of Adolescent Delinquency and Peer Friendships

Open Access
Hutchinson, Robert Wayne
Graduate Program:
Crime, Law and Justice
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
August 22, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Derek Allen Kreager, Thesis Advisor
  • Jeremy Staff, Thesis Advisor
  • Delinquency
  • ADHD
  • Peers
  • Self-control
Although ADHD has been shown by psychologists to be a robust predictor of delinquency and has been a topic of substantial public concern in recent years, it has rarely been studied by sociological criminologists. In addition to delinquency, prior psychological studies suggest that ADHD may influence peer friendship selection, peer interactions, and peer delinquency. Using a self-reported and retrospective measure of ADHD from a sample of 5,582 adolescent respondents to The National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this thesis tests the relationships between ADHD, peer friendships, delinquency, and peer delinquency. Results show that (1) for boys, ADHD is associated with fewer friendship nominations by peers and a reduced likelihood of best-friendship reciprocation, (2) ADHD tends to increase peer delinquency indirectly through lower school grades and increased delinquent behavior, (3) the association between ADHD and delinquency is not mediated by peer influence, and (4) this association is moderated by peer delinquency. Comparisons to recent criminological literature on impulsivity and self-control suggest that ADHD is an independent predictor of delinquency.