Malleability of social impressions of hyperactive children

Douglas A. Granger, Carol K. Whalen, Barbara Henker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The role of adults' social cognitions in mediating judgments of hyperactive children's medicationrelated behavior change was explored. Two hundred eightyeight undergraduates observed two videotaped excerpts of a hyperactive "target" boy playing a group game with two peers. Each target was taking either methylphenidate (0.6 mg/kg) during both excerpts, placebo during both excerpts, methylphenidate first followed by placebo, or placebo first followed by methylphenidate. Adults' cumulative social evaluations of the child were assessed after they viewed both video segments. Results indicated that observers combined their perceptions of the two behavior samples into composite impressions using an equalweight averaging algorithm. Even for children whose behavior improved, adults' ratings of undercontrolled behaviors continued to meet or, in some cases exceed, research cutoff scores used to identify hyperactive children. The findings suggest that the actual behaviors of children with attentiondeficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) play a more influential role in shaping interpersonal impressions than do perceiver socialcognitive processes such as primacy, recency, or integration biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-647
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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