Financial decision-making in adults with ADHD

Neuropsychology. 2019 Nov;33(8):1065-1077. doi: 10.1037/neu0000571. Epub 2019 Jul 25.


Objective: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adulthood is associated with problems in multiple domains of everyday life, including financial decision-making (FDM). Research on FDM in adults with ADHD is, however, limited and FDM has never been examined in an objective standardized manner in these patients. The aim of the present study is to explore FDM abilities of adults with ADHD, using both subjective and standardized objective measures.

Method: Adults with ADHD (n = 45) and healthy controls (n = 51) completed a comprehensive test battery, including an evaluation of their personal financial situation, a neuropsychological assessment and standardized tests and questionnaires measuring various aspects of FDM.

Results: Adults with ADHD reported to have a significantly poorer financial situation than healthy controls, including having less income, more often debts and less often a savings account. Furthermore, adults with ADHD showed significantly lower scores than healthy controls in standardized tests measuring financial competence and capacity (i.e., understanding bank statements/protocols and evaluating financial problems) as well as in a test measuring decision making with implications for the future. Furthermore, compared with healthy controls, adults with ADHD reported more often to buy on impulse and to use an avoidant or spontaneous decision-making style. A mediating effect of numeracy was found for 2 measures of FDM (i.e., financial competence and capacity); however, group differences on these measures remained statistically significant.

Conclusions: Adults with ADHD have difficulties with several aspects of FDM. These difficulties may at least partly explain the poorer financial situation of adults with ADHD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Young Adult