Individual differences in tendencies to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and emotionality: empirical evidence in young healthy adults from Germany and China
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity but also by negative emotionality. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether subclinical ADHD tendencies are associated with negative emotionality in healthy adult samples. The present study is of special interest since it investigated negative emotionality with a questionnaire anchored in Neuroscience Theory—the Affective Neuroscience Personality Scales (ANPS). Furthermore, through the investigation of samples in two countries, namely Germany and China, the study aims to replicate the results across different cultures. German (n = 377; age: M = 23.25, SD = 8.47; 117 males) and Chinese (n = 389; age: M = 20.74, SD = 2.47; 279 males) subjects completed ANPS (primary emotional traits) and ASRS (ADHD tendencies) questionnaires in an online survey. Principal component analysis of the ANPS revealed one factor for negative emotionality and one factor for positive emotionality. Partial correlations between ANPS and ASRS (controlled for age) were conducted separately for nation and gender. The same correlation patterns between ADHD tendencies and negative emotionality could be found in male and female German/Chinese participants (range r = .189 to r = .352). Higher negative emotionality was always significantly associated with more inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined tendencies. However, significant negative correlations between ADHD tendencies and positive emotionality could only be observed in Chinese males (range r = − .264 to r = − .296). The results are in line with former findings in children and show that also in healthy adults, associations between negative emotionality and ADHD tendencies are robustly visible. The results were independent of the cultural background, indicating a general association between ADHD tendencies and negative emotionality, even in healthy adults.
KeywordsADHD Emotionality Primary emotional traits Replication Germany China
JW and CM designed the present study. JW drafted the present manuscript and conducted the statistical analysis. CS double-checked the statistical analysis. PS and MZ have been responsible for the Chinese translation process of the ASRS questionnaire. JW and ML conducted the data collection in Beijing, whereas JW and CS collected the German data and the data from Chengdu. BB and KMK critically revised the manuscript. The final version of the manuscript was approved by all authors.
JW and CS are Stipend of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). CM is supported by the German Research Foundation (MO 2363/3-2).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Research involving human participants
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Becker B, Steffens M, Zhao Z, Kendrick KM, Neumann C, Weber B, Schultz J, Mehta MA, Ettinger U, Hurlemann R (2017) General and emotion-specific neural effects of ketamine during emotional memory formation. NeuroImage 15:307–317. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.02.049 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Biederman J, Monuteaux MC, Mick E, Spencer T, Wilens TE, Silva JM, Snyder LE, Faraone SV (2006) Young adult outcome of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a controlled 10-year follow-up study. Psychol Med 36:167–179. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291705006410 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Bortz J (2005) Statistik für Human- und Sozialwissenschaftler. Springer-Medizin, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
- Brotman MA, Rich BA, Guyer AE, Lunsford JR, Horsey SE, Reising MM, Thomas LA, Fromm SJ, Towbin K, Pine DS, Leibenluft E (2010) Amygdala activation during emotion processing of neutral faces in children with severe mood dysregulation versus ADHD or bipolar disorder. Am J Psychiatry 167:61–69CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Buitelaar JK, Kan CC, Asherson PJ (eds) (2011) ADHD in adults: characterization, diagnosis, and treatment. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Coghill D, Sonuga-Barke EJS (2012) Annual research review: categories versus dimensions in the classification and conceptualisation of child and adolescent mental disorders—implications of recent empirical study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 53(5):469–489. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02511.x CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Cohen J (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioural science, 2nd edn. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJGoogle Scholar
- Davis KL, Panksepp J, Normansell L (2003) The affective neuroscience personality scales: normative data and implications. Neuro-Psychoanalysis 5(1):57–69Google Scholar
- de Zwaan M, Gruß B, Müller A, Graap H, Martin A, Glaesmer H, Hilbert A, Phillipsen A (2012) The estimated prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in a German community sample. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 262:79–86. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-011-0211-9 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Geller B, Zimerman B, Williams M, DelBello MP, Bolhofner K, Craney JL, Frazier J, Beringer L, Nickelsburg MJ (2002) DSM-IV mania symptoms in a prepubertal and early adolescent bipolar disorder phenotype compared to attention-deficit hyperactive and normal controls. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 12(1):11–25. https://doi.org/10.1089/10445460252943533 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Huang Y, Zheng S, Xu C, Wu K, Zheng M, Zhang J, Xu H (2017) Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in elementary school students in Shantou, China: prevalence, subtypes, and influencing factors. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat 13:785–792. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S126100 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Huss M, Hölling H, Kurth B-M, Schlack R (2008) How often are German children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD? Prevalence based on the judgement of health care professionals: results of the German health and examination survey (KiGGS). Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 17:52–58. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-008-1006-z CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Ivanov I, Bansal R, Hao X, Zhu H, Kellendonk C, Miller L, Sanchez-Pena J, Miller AM, Chakravarty MM, Klahr K, Durkin K, Greenhill LL, Peterson BS (2010) Morphological abnormalities of the thalamus in youths with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Psychiatry 167:397–408. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09030398 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Kessler RC, Adler L, Ames M, Demler O, Faraone S, Hiripi E et al (2005) The World Health Organization adult ADHD self-report scale (ASRS): a short screening scale for use in the general population. Psychol Med 35:245–256. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291704002892 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Maltezos S, Horder J, Coghlan S, Skirrow C, O’Gorman R, Lavender TJ, Mendez MA, Mehta M, Daly E, Xenitidis K, Paliokosta E, Spain D, Pitts M, Asherson P, Lythgoe DJ, Barker GJ, Murphy DG (2014) Glutamate/glutamine and neuronal integrity in adults with ADHD: a proton MRS study. Transl Psychiatry 4:e373. https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2014.11 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Panksepp J (1998) Affective neuroscience: the foundations of human and animal emotions. Oxford University Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
- Perlov E, Philipsen A, Hesslinger B, Buechert M, Ahrendts J, Feige B, Bubl E, Hennig J, Ebert D, Tebartz van Elst L (2007) Reduced cingulated glutamate/glutamine-to-creatine ratios in adult patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder—a magnet resonance spectroscopy study. J Psychiatr Res 41:934–941. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2006.12.007 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Reuter M, Panksepp J, Davis K, Montag C (2017) ANPS: affective neuroscience personality scales. Hogrefe, GöttingenGoogle Scholar
- Sasaki T, Hashimoto K, Oda Y, Ishima T, Kurata T, Takahashi J, Kamata Y, Kimura H, Niitsu T, Komatsu H, Ishikawa M, Hasegawa T, Shiina A, Hashimoto T, Kanahara N, Shiraishi T, Iyo M (2015) Decreased levels of serum oxytocin in pediatric patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychiatry Res 228:746–751CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Takeda T, Tsuji Y, Kurita H (2017) Psychometric properties of the Japanese version of the adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) self-report scale (ASRS-J) and its short scale in accordance with DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Res Dev Disabil 63:59–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2017.02.011 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Wilens TE, Biederman J, Brown S, Tanguay S, Monuteaux MC, Blake C, Spencer TJ (2002) Psychiatric comorbidity and functioning in clinically referred preschool children and school-age youths with ADHD. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 41(3):262–268. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-200203000-00005 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar