Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a developmental disorder involving challenging behaviour clinically linked to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Many of the problematic features of PDA are often seen in persons with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and impulsivity. ADHD and impulsivity are also common in the backgrounds of offenders.
Method and procedure: We examined if self-reported ASD, ADHD, impulsivity, and general personality traits such as low conscientiousness and low emotional stability predicted self-reported PDA scores, and which constructs contributed to the prediction of delinquency, recruiting 132 participants (mean age 34.6 years, SD = 10.9, range 18-68), of whom 126 cases had complete data.
Many of these constructs, but particularly ADHD (r = 0.71, p < 0.001) were significant correlates of PDA, the correlation between ASD and PDA was small, and did not predict PDA. Multiple regression indicated that a combination of higher attention deficit, antagonism, and lower emotional stability predicted 65 % of an individual's PDA score, but that their PDA score did not contribute to the prediction of delinquency.
This research indicates that, for community adult populations, self-reported individual differences in ADHD, emotional instability, and antagonism appear to better predict PDA than ASD. The association PDA has with delinquency may reflect these constructs, which are also correlates of offending.
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