Attributional style, positive illusory bias, and self-concept of children with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Angela F. Y. SIUa , Z. YANb and F. C. HOc

a Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, The Chinese  University of Hong Kong.

b Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The Education University of Hong Kong.

c Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education and Counseling, The Education University of Hong Kong


(Received 20 July 2015, Final revised version received 06 April 2016)


This study investigated the positive illusory bias, attribution of success and failure, and self-concept of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The participants were 85 primaryschool children, 45 of whom had been diagnosed with ADHD. The remaining 40 children made up the matched sample. The children in both groups were asked to work on two problem-solving tasks, one designated as ―easy‖ and the other as ―difficult,‖ and then to explain their success or failure in each task. A questionnaire was used to gather data on the children’s self-concept. Analysis of the children’s attributions of success and failure revealed no significant interaction between the groups (with ADHD vs. without ADHD) and locus of control (internal vs. external). However, children with ADHD tended to use external factors to explain their success, whereas those who did not have ADHD more frequently attributed their success to internal factors. Compared with children who did not have ADHD, children with ADHD scored much higher on various domains of self-concept, supporting recent findings on positive illusory bias. A Rasch analysis of the psychometric properties of the self-concept scale confirmed its suitability for use with the sample under study. Future research directions and practical implications are discussed.


Keywords: attributional style, positive illusory bias, self-concept, Rasch measurement, ADHD