The interplay of delay aversion, timing skills, and impulsivity in children experiencing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms

  • Friederike BlumeEmail author
  • Jan Kuehnhausen
  • Tilman Reinelt
  • Andrea Wirth
  • Wolfgang A. Rauch
  • Christina Schwenck
  • Caterina Gawrilow
Original Article


Impulsive behaviours occurring as a central deficit in connection with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are associated with social and academic impairment in children. Whereas impulsivity was shown to be related to both delay aversion and deficient timing skills, the mutual relation between the latter two has hardly been investigated. The present study therefore examined the interplay of delay aversion, timing skills, and impulsivity in a sample of eighty-eight children aged between seven and fourteen, twenty-one of them diagnosed with ADHD. Children participated in a delay aversion and a tapping task, while parents reported about their impulsiveness. The results showed that both delay aversion and deficient timing skills were related to impulsivity. Contrasting prior assumptions, delay aversion and timing skills were also shown to be related, even when controlling for impulsivity. Implications for interventions aiming to reduce children’s impulsivity as well as methodological considerations regarding whether to view ADHD as a category or a continuum are discussed.


ADHD symptoms Dimensionality Delay aversion Timing skills Impulsivity 



We thank all research assistants of this project for their work.


This research was part of a larger project analysing correlates of decision-making in children with ADHD at the Center for Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk (IDeA) in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, funded by the Hessian Initiative for the Development of Scientific and Economic Excellence (LOEWE). This research was furthermore funded by the LEAD Graduate School & Research Network [GSC1028], a project of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to be declared by any author.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, School PsychologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.LEAD Graduate School & Research NetworkUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  3. 3.Center for Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk (IDeA Center)DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in EducationFrankfurt am MainGermany
  4. 4.Center for Clinical Psychology and RehabilitationUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  5. 5.Department of Educational PsychologyGoethe UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany
  6. 6.Department of Special Education, Psychology and DiagnosticsLudwigsburg University of EducationLudwigsburgGermany
  7. 7.Department of Educational and Clinical Child and Adolescent PsychologyJustus-Liebig-University of GießenGießenGermany

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