Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

John H. Casada

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Timothy S. Perkins

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Charles W. Wadlington


An increase in the number of adults seeking ADHD evaluations as college students in recent years raises concerns of malingered or exaggerated attentional impairments. Some students may falsely report ADHD symptoms in an attempt to obtain academic accommodations as well as prescriptions for stimulant medications. Meanwhile, little attention has been given to the development of either self-reported measures or performance-based tests that can ensure the validity of reported or exhibited attentional symptoms. In 2015, Multi-Health Systems Inc. (MHS) released an improved version of a continuous performance test, the Conners Continuous Performance 3rd Edition (Conners CPT 3), which may have improved ability to differentiate genuine from feigned attentional deficit. At this time, no prior studies are known to have investigated the ability of the Conners CPT 3 to distinguish between individuals with ADHD and those mimicking attentional symptoms, and to delineate how they differ. In this study, college students with no history or diagnosis of ADHD were asked to mimic symptoms of attentional impairment while completing Conners CPT 3 assessment. Though this study is limited by small sample size and is lacking in sample diversity, significant differences were found for many variables with a few showing non-overlapping confidence intervals. The results indicate that students exaggerated the presumed ADHD symptoms, on Conners CPT 3 variables such as Detectability, Omissions, Hit Reaction Time, and Hit Reaction Time Standard Deviation. This suggests that when subjects with no history of attentional impairment attempt to present ADHD symptoms, they generally make more mistakes than clinical samples with attentional dysfunction; frequently by reacting to stimuli discriminatively while responding less to target stimuli. In addition, simulators were seen to produce slower responses, with more variability than individuals with ADHD. These results offer initial evidence that standard neuropsychological measures of sustained attention and vigilance to task may be useful in identifying those feigning or exaggerating attentional impairment. Implications for clinical practice, assessment, and future research are described.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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