Toward Construct Validity in the Childhood Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Classification and Diagnosis in DSM-IV and Beyond
  • Irwin D. Waldman
  • Scott O. Lilienfeld
  • Benjamin B. Lahey
Part of the Advances in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ACCP, volume 17)


The number and coverage of child psychopathological disorders have expanded greatly since their rather cursory representation as adjustment reactions in the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (American Psychiatric Association, 1952). The division of childhood disorders into the multitude of diagnoses that appear in the DSM-III-R (American Psychiatric Association, 1987) and the forthcoming DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1993) justifiably raises questions regarding the validity of these diagnostic distinctions. In the case of the disruptive (i.e., externalizing) disorders—which include the Attention Deficit Disorders (most notably, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and Conduct Disorder (CD)—research generally has supported the differentiation of these disorders from internalizing disorders, such as anxiety and depressive disorders (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1978) and, to a lesser extent, the finer distinction among dimensions of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity on the one hand and aggression, oppositional behaviors, and more serious conduct problems on the other (Hinshaw, 1987; Loney & Milich, 1982). It should be noted, however, that both sets of distinctions have been challenged, and that despite a flurry of research activity concerning these disorders, many questions remain regarding their validity.


Construct Validity Oppositional Defiant Disorder ADHD Symptom Conduct Disorder Disruptive Behavior Disorder 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irwin D. Waldman
    • 1
  • Scott O. Lilienfeld
    • 2
  • Benjamin B. Lahey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Chicago Medical SchoolChicagoUSA

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