The Kind Nature Behind the Unsocial Semblance: ADHD and Justice Sensitivity-A Pilot Study

J Atten Disord. 2015 Aug;19(8):715-27. doi: 10.1177/1087054712466914. Epub 2012 Dec 5.


Objective: Although ADHD is largely associated with antisocial behavior, those affected are often said to show pronounced justice sensitivity. To investigate this assumption, the authors compared participants with ADHD with healthy controls.

Method: An experimental game was used to investigate decisions associated with social justice. A questionnaire was used to measure four dimensions of justice sensitivity: observer, profiteer, perpetrator, and victim sensitivity.

Results: Participants with ADHD produced higher values in observer and profiteer sensitivity than the control group. There were no differences in perpetrator sensitivity. Questionnaire results reveal that the inattentive subtype exhibited higher justice sensitivity than the hyperactive/impulsive and combined subtypes and the control group on all dimensions.

Conclusion: The results confirm that justice sensitivity is indeed more pronounced in people with ADHD, particularly in the inattentive subtype. It is suggested that pronounced justice sensitivity may be a coping strategy for inferring appropriate social behavior.

Keywords: ADHD; antisocial behavior; experimental game; justice sensitivity; prosocial behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperkinesis
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Social Justice*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires