What Drives Risky Behavior in ADHD: Insensitivity to its Risk or Fascination with its Potential Benefits?

Rachel Shoham*, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Ilan Yaniv, Yehuda Pollak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: ADHD is linked to increased engagement in risky behavior (ERB). Recent work suggests that this link is mediated by the perceived benefits of the behaviors, but not by the perceived risks or the attitudes toward the risks. Here we examine this hypothesis, using the psychological risk-return and psychometric multidimensional measurement models. Method: Adults with or without ADHD completed questionnaires measuring the likelihood of different risky behaviors and the perceived risks and benefits ascribed to these behaviors. Participants’ ratings of 25 characteristics of various risky behaviors allowed us to derive two factors corresponding to perceived risk and perceived benefit of ERBs. Overall attitudes toward the perceived risks and benefits were extracted. Results: Perceived benefit mediated the link between ADHD and ERB, in both models. Attitudes toward the perceived risks mediated that link in the psychometric model only. Conclusion: Perceived benefit plays an important role in the link between ADHD and ERB.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1988-2002
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) declared the following potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Prof. Edmund Sonuga-Barke: Speaker fees, consultancy, research funding and conference support from Shire Pharma. Speaker fees from Janssen Cilag, Consultancy from Neurotech solutions, Aarhus University, Copenhagen University and Berhanderling, Skolerne, Copenhagen, KU Leuven. Book royalties from OUP and Jessica Kingsley. Grants awarded from MRC, ESRC, Wellcome Trust, Solent NHS Trust, European Union, Child Health Research Foundation New Zealand, NIHR, Nuffield Foundation, Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek-Vlaanderen (FWO), MQ-Transforming Mental Health.

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was conducted with the financial support of an internal grant of the Authority for Research and Development, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Publisher Copyright:
© ©The Author(s) 2020.


  • ADHD
  • decision making
  • perceptions
  • psychometrics
  • risky behavior


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