Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 765–775 | Cite as

Attributions for Parents’ Behavior by Boys With and Without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Sara Colalillo
  • David Williamson
  • Charlotte Johnston
Original Article


Attributions for parents’ behavior were examined in a sample of boys with and without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sixty-six boys (mean age = 9.75 years) rated attributions for their mothers’ and their fathers’ behavior, across positive and negative scenarios, and along four attribution dimensions (parent ability, parent effort, task difficulty, and child responsibility). Three-way interactions emerged among child ADHD status, parent gender, and attribution type, and among scenario valence, parent gender, and attribution type. All children rated attributions higher in the positive scenarios, and attributions of child responsibility higher for fathers than mothers. Children rated task-related attributions higher for mothers in negative scenarios, but higher for fathers in positive scenarios. Boys with ADHD rated child responsibility attributions higher than controls, across all scenarios. Results highlight important differences in children’s perceptions of their parents’ behavior that may have implications for understanding parent–child relationships in families of children with and without ADHD.


Child attributions ADHD Mother Father Parent–child relationships 



This research was supported by funds from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We thank the families who participated in this project, and our colleagues in the Parenting Lab who helped conduct the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Colalillo
    • 1
  • David Williamson
    • 1
  • Charlotte Johnston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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