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Jana L. Price-Sharps


Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are overrepresented in the forensic population, but there is a lack of research explaining this phenomenon. The purpose of this quantitative nonexperimental study was to investigate if higher levels of ADHD symptoms result in higher levels of criminal thinking or reasoning and whether gender influences levels of criminal thinking when controlling for levels of ADHD symptoms. Lastly, this study was designed to determine if higher levels of ADHD symptoms correlate with higher numbers of incarcerations across the general adult population. Gestalt versus feature intensive processing theory was used in this study to better understand how individuals with ADHD process decisions on a spectrum from gestalt processing to feature intensive processing. A total of 93 participants completed the surveys. Results showed statistical significance across all three research questions, meaning higher levels of ADHD symptoms did correlate with higher criminal thinking, gender influenced levels of criminal thinking when controlling for levels of ADHD symptoms, and higher ADHD symptoms did correlate with number of incarcerations. The significant rate of ADHD symptoms within forensic populations would warrant further investigation into programs to assess inmates for ADHD to provide adequate psychiatric support for inmates and address female populations more adequately. This current study contributed to positive social change by addressing some gaps in the literature regarding levels of ADHD and levels of criminal thinking, gender and ADHD, and ADHD and rate of incarcerations. Positive social change can come from further research to develop better assessments, interventions, and training.

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