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Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2007 Jun;22(5):577-88. Epub 2007 May 15.

Identifying students faking ADHD: Preliminary findings and strategies for detection.

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Queen's University, 186 Barrie Street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


When conducting psychological evaluations, clinicians typically assume that the subject being evaluated is putting forth maximal effort and is not exaggerating or magnifying symptom complaints. While the field of neuropsychology has identified that factors, such as effort and motivation, can significantly interfere with correct interpretation of self-reported symptoms and test scores, evaluation methods for other psychological conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have not addressed effort and motivation as potential factors influencing accurate diagnosis. In analyzing the performance of students simulating ADHD, and comparing it to performance of both non-ADHD and genuine ADHD students, this study clearly demonstrated that the symptoms of ADHD are easily fabricated, and that simulators would be indistinguishable from those with true ADHD. In addition, students motivated to feign ADHD could easily perform poorly on tests of reading and processing speed, thus allowing them access to academic accommodations. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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