Does ADHD Symptom Severity Mediate the Relationship Between Executive Functioning and Social Skills?

Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Elizabeth Gosch, PhD, ABPP

Second Advisor

Donald Masey, PsyD

Third Advisor

Gregory Alberts, PhD


The purpose of this study was to better understand the nature of the relationship between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), executive functions, and social skills to support the development of more effective social skills training interventions for children with ADHD. This study examined whether ADHD symptom severity mediated the relationship between executive functions and social skills in a sample of youth with ADHD. Participants were 66 children (74.2% males; 25.8% females) ages 7 through 12. Inconsistent with prior research and study hypotheses, ADHD symptom severity was not found to mediate the relationship between specific executive functions (i.e., behavioral inhibition, working memory, verbal fluency, and auditory attention) and social skills. The lack of mediation may be due to methodological differences between the present study and prior research, particularly in regard to the nature of the study sample. The present study examined an ADHD sample whose social functioning fell largely in the average range, excluded participants with various co-occurring disorders, and utilized social skills ratings focused on prosocial skills as opposed to social impairment. Future research should explore alternative mediation analysis methods for small samples; consider potential moderators in the relationship between ADHD, executive function, and social skills; include participants with comorbid disorders; and examine executive functions that are not present in the current body of research, such as problem-solving, planning, and spatial or visual memory.

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