Category: ADHD - Adult

PS3- #A28 - Sluggish Cognitive Tempo and ADHD Are Differentially Related to BIS/BAS Sensitivity and Big Five Personality Traits

Friday, Nov 17
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: ADHD - Adult | Comorbidity | College Students

Despite long-standing interest in linking psychopathology to personality (Bijttebier et al., 2009; Kotov et al., 2010), no study has evaluated sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) symptoms in relation to adult personality. Finding SCT and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) dimensions to be differentially associated with personality traits would inform our understanding of SCT within broader models of personality and psychopathology. The single study examining SCT and personality was conducted in children and found SCT to be related to increased sensitivity to punishment (Behavioral Inhibition System; BIS) whereas ADHD was related to increased sensitivity to reward (Behavioral Approach System; BAS) (Becker et al., 2013). Although SCT has been unexamined in the context of adult personality, studies examining ADHD in adults have found ADHD hyperactivity-impulsivity (HI) to be positively associated with BAS sensitivity, with more mixed findings for ADHD inattention (IN) (Hundt et al., 2008; Mitchell, 2009; Mitchell & Nelson-Gray, 2006). Studies using the Big 5 model of personality have shown ADHD-HI to be associated with increased Extraversion and decreased Agreeableness, whereas ADHD-IN is associated with increased Neuroticism and decreased Conscientiousness and Extraversion (Nigg et al., 2002, Parker et al., 2004, Stanton & Watson, 2016). In the present study, we evaluated whether ADHD dimensions and SCT were differentially associated with personality as assessed via both the Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (BIS/BAS) and Big 5 models of personality. A large sample of undergraduate students from five universities (N = 3,172; ages 18-29; 70% female; 80% White) completed measures of SCT, ADHD, BIS/BAS sensitivity, and the Big 5. We hypothesized that SCT would be uniquely related to increased BIS sensitivity and Neuroticism and decreased Extraversion and Conscientiousness. Structural regression models were conducted that included demographics, SCT, ADHD-IN, and ADHD-HI as predictors of personality. ADHD-HI was significantly positively associated with BAS, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Openness, and negatively associated with Agreeableness. ADHD-IN was significantly positively associated with BIS and Neuroticism, and negatively associated with BAS, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Openness. SCT symptoms were significantly positively associated with BIS, Neuroticism, and Openness, and negatively associated with Extraversion and Conscientiousness. In supplemental analyses that also controlled for internalizing symptoms, SCT, but not ADHD-IN, was positively associated with BIS. This study provides the first evidence linking SCT to both BIS and Big 5 personality traits in adults and underscores the importance of differentiating SCT from ADHD.

Aidan P. Schmitt

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Matthew A. Jarrett

Associate Professor
University of Alabama

Aaron M. Luebbe

Associate Professor
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio

Annie A. Garner

Assistant Professor
St. Louis University
Saint Louis, Missouri

G. LEONARD.. Burns

Washington State University

Jeffery N. Epstein

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Stephen P. Becker

Assistant Professor
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Cincinnati, Ohio