Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


Diagnostic labels are frequently used with children exhibiting symptoms of learning and behavioral disorders. The effect that such labels have on the labeled children as well as their peers is not completely understood. In the present study, the effects of the label "ADHD" on peer acceptance were examined. Fourth- and fifth-grade boys and girls viewed a video of a peer listening to teacher instruction and working on a worksheet. For half of the participants, the child in the video was labeled as having ADHD, while the other participants were told nothing about the child. After viewing the video, the children responded to a questionnaire assessing the likelihood that they would befriend the peer in the video. An analysis of variance revealed that the label resulted in significantly lower friendship ratings. Gender of the participant was not found to impact peer ratings. These results indicate that parents, professionals, and children need to be educated about the effects that labels may have and that labels need to be used with caution. Labeled children may also benefit from counseling about how others may respond to their label.



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