Date of Award

8-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kibby, Michelle

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between parent-rated attention problems, anxiety, and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms and children’s performance on various attention domains, including selective, sustained, and divided attention and executive functioning, specifically related to set-shifting and inhibition abilities. A dimensional approach to symptom presentation was used in order to measure attention and anxiety symptoms in a continuous fashion and to better incorporate children who have subclinical and mild presentations (Ferrin & Vance, 2014). Participants were 27 children between 8 and 14 years of age who were recruited in a rural area near a large public university located in the Midwest. Children were administered the Test of Everyday Attention for Children (TEA-Ch; Manly, Robertson, Anderson, & Nimmo-Smith, 1999) and the Self-Report of Personality form from the Behavior Assessment System for Children – Second Edition (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004). Parents completed a brief demographics form and the Parent Rating Scale form from the BASC-2. Results were based on a small sample size due to difficulty with recruitment. No effects of parent or self-reported anxiety, attention, and/or hyperactivity symptoms were associated with aspects of selective attention or attentional control/executive functioning. Anxiety symptoms per parent-report predicted some aspects of sustained attention performance. Self-reported symptoms of anxiety and their interaction with both attention problems and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms significantly predicted divided attention performance. Given the positive correlations between symptoms of anxiety and performance on some of the attention measures, symptoms of anxiety may be a protective factor for aspects of sustained and divided attention. These results suggest that assessment of attention performance among children presenting with symptoms of anxiety and attention problems/hyperactivity should be an area for further research with a larger sample size and additional measures of attention.

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