Journal of Attention Disorders


Journal of Attention Disorders 2017, Vol. 21(4) 316 –322 © The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: DOI: 10.1177/1087054714530782


ADHD is one of the most common childhood neuropsychological disorders, causing difficulties in academic, social, emotional, and behavioral domains (Barkley, 1990; LeFever, Villers, & Morrow, 2002; Pelham & Bender, 1982).

Due to these problems, it was previously assumed that children with ADHD would have lower self-confidence than those without (Hoza & Pelham, 1995; Slomkowski, Klein, & Mannuzza, 1995; Treuting & Hinshaw, 2001).

However, researchers have recently dis- covered that children and adults with ADHD actually appear to have a positive illusory bias (PIB) toward themselves, meaning that they tend to rate themselves as higher functioning in social and academic situations than teachers, parents, and peers rate them (see Owens, Goldfine, Evangelista, Hoza, & Kaiser, 2007, for review).

Similarly, when comparing objective measures of these domains with their self-reports, ADHD children’s self-perception is usually an overestimation of their actual performance (Hoza et al., 2000; Hoza et al., 2001; Manor et al., 2012).

This phenomenon has been found in both genders (Hoza et al., 2004) and different ADHD subtypes (Swanson, Owens, & Hinshaw, 2012), and does not seem to improve in children who have received stimulant medication (Ialongo et al., 1994) and extensive behavioral therapy (Hoza et al., 2004).

There is much dispute as to whether these positive illusions are adaptive or maladaptive in ADHD. Some studies hypothesize that this positive illusion may be a protective strategy to help individuals persist during challenges and overcome frequent failures or setbacks (Diener & Milich, 1997; Hoza et al., 2004; Taylor & Brown, 1988).

Contrary to this notion though, ADHD children with PIBs still have decreased motivation, persistence, and overall task performance compared with those without the disorder (Owens et al., 2007).

Similarly, others argue that the positive illusions may be caused by cognitive immaturity (Milich, 1994), and will lead to poorer social skills and increased risk for negative outcomes later in life (Colvin, Block, & Funder, 1995; Hoza et al., 2004).

Overestimation of competence in ADHD children is associated with increased aggression and less prosocial behavior (Hoza et al., 2010; Linnea, Hoza, & Tomb, 2012). Interestingly, McQuade et al.