Posted on December 14, 2019

Racial Differences Between Black Parents’ and White Teachers’ Perceptions of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Behavior

Sungha Kang and Elizabeth A. Harvey, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, December 2, 2019


Previous research suggests there may be racial differences in how adults rate children’s ADHD behavior. Differences in perceptions of Black parents and White teachers could have implications for ADHD diagnosis of Black children. This study compared ADHD ratings of Black parents to White teachers, and examined factors that may explain racial differences. Participants included 71 Black parents (65 women, 6 men; Mage = 33.92) and 60 White teachers (41 women, 19 men; Mage = 33.60), as well as a comparison group of 65 White parents (49 women, 16 men; Mage = 36.83). Participants watched video clips of children in classrooms and rated ADHD behaviors and ADHD likelihood. They then completed questionnaires regarding beliefs about ADHD stigma, verve (movement expressiveness), experiences with racial discrimination, and racial attitudes. White teachers rated Black boys’ ADHD behaviors and their likelihood of having ADHD higher than Black parents. White teachers with more negative racial attitudes toward African Americans gave higher ADHD behavior and likelihood ratings to Black boys than did teachers with less negative racial attitudes. Across all participants, ADHD stigma beliefs and verve were not related to ratings of Black boys. Black parents with more experiences with racial discrimination gave higher ratings to Black boys’ ADHD behaviors. Research is necessary to further explain the mechanisms by which discrepancies in ratings of Black boys’ ADHD behaviors exist between Black and White adults to inform culturally sensitive assessment and diagnosis of ADHD in Black children.