I am a second year PhD student in the School and Clinical Child Psychology program at OISE/University of Toronto. My Masterâ€™s exploratory study set out to compare the romantic relationships of adolescents with and without ADHD on four features of romantic relationships: romantic involvement, partner identity, relationship content, and relationship quality. Preliminary findings suggest that the presence of ADHD symptomatology is associated with differences on key features of romantic relationships. Adolescents with ADHD were found to have significantly more romantic partners than their typically developing (TD) peers, and in particular, female adolescents with ADHD were found to have shorter romantic relationships than their TD counterparts. In addition, males with ADHD reported their age of first intercourse to be nearly two years prior to males without ADHD, and adolescents with ADHD, irrespective of gender, had nearly double the number lifetime sexual partners than TD adolescents. However, in the current study, adolescents with and without ADHD did not differ on measures assessing the quality of their romantic relationships or the levels of aggression perpetrated or incurred. When choosing a romantic partner, adolescents with and without ADHD did not differ on the level of importance placed on overarching categories of partner characteristics.
For my PhD, I will broaden the focus of my research to also examine the quality of relationships that adolescents with ADHD have with their peers and parents. My proposed research program is therefore guided by the following objectives:
- to compare adolescents with ADHD and typically developing (TD) adolescents on a broad array of relationship characteristics (e.g., attachment, caregiving, affiliative, negative interactions) across a number of different types of personal relationships (e.g., mother, father, same-sex friend, opposite sex friend, romantic partner).
- Among adolescents with ADHD, to examine predictors of positive and negative interactions with the various people in their network (e.g., age, gender, self-concept, parenting style).
- To examine the extent to which peer and family relationship quality is a risk/protective factor for various outcomes (e.g., academic achievement, internalizing and externalizing psychopathology).