Emotional Factors and Social Skills in Children with ADHD: The Roles of Anger Dysregulation and Temperamental Positive Affect

Erica Danielle Ferrara, Fordham University


ADHD is a common psychological disorder in children that is associated with social impairments as well as deficits in emotion regulation. Such emotion dysregulation often appears to contribute to social difficulties, and poor prosocial skills may play a central role in this association. While research focusing on the influences of distinct emotions in these relations for children with ADHD is limited, evidence suggests that dysregulated anger in particular may be associated with poorer social skills, while positive affect may be associated with better social skills and may have the potential to act as a resilience factor for developing strong social skills despite the presence of negative factors. The present study examined whether anger dysregulation displayed during severe temper outbursts and temperamental positive affect impact tendencies to exhibit social skills in the form of prosocial behaviors in a sample of 5- to 9-year-old children with ADHD. Greater anger dysregulation was a significant negative predictor of social skills, and greater temperamental positive affect was a significant positive predictor of social skills. Further, temperamental positive affect showed a promotive, but not protective, effect against the negative effect of anger dysregulation on social skills. This suggests that having greater temperamental positive affect is likely to benefit prosocial behavior at any level of co-occurring anger dysregulation in the context of ADHD, but that it does not completely ameliorate the negative influence of anger on social skills. The clinical implications of these findings for social skills training programs should be confirmed and expanded upon in future research that includes additional measures of social behaviors and peer social status as well as reports from multiple informants. Prosocial behaviors are crucial for social success, and addressing anger dysregulation and increasing positive affect may assist in building positive social skills among at-risk children with ADHD.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Developmental psychology|Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

Ferrara, Erica Danielle, "Emotional Factors and Social Skills in Children with ADHD: The Roles of Anger Dysregulation and Temperamental Positive Affect" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28493965.