Carissa Jean Krapf, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Kathi Borden, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Daniel LaFleur, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Barbara Belcher-Timme, Psy.D., Committee Member


Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, Self-Determination Theory, autonomy, competence, relatedness, children, intrinsic motivation, CAIMI

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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become a common diagnosis among children today. The numbers have grown exponentially in the last several decades and, despite extensive research and various treatment modalities, many children continue to struggle with its disruptive symptoms. Current research reports a poor prognosis for this population with difficulties continuing into adulthood. One of the difficulties noted is in their ability to develop intrinsic motivation when their behaviors have been managed by extrinsic rewards. Self Determination Theory (SDT) was used to conceptualize the difficulties around developing intrinsic motivation when an individual experiences symptoms of ADHD which impact several areas of functioning. SDT asserts that autonomy, competence, and relatedness are needed in order to develop intrinsic motivation. As such, it was hypothesized that ADHD symptoms and their treatment may be related to motivational difficulties in children with ADHD. The General Scale of the Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation Inventory was used to measure the intrinsic motivation of fourth and fifth graders, with and without ADHD, to explore possible differences in intrinsic motivation between groups. A total of 366 recruitment packets were sent home to families and resulted in 61 participants between the ages of 9-11. Test administration occurred within several elementary schools with the support of school principals and guidance counselors. The results of this research yielded only one statistically significant finding which illuminated a relationship of medium significance between age and intrinsic motivation. The lack of results in all other analyses indicate that there is no difference between the development of intrinsic motivation in children with ADHD when compared to their same-age peers. However, due to a small sample size, uneven diagnostic group distribution and the use of a subscale instead of a full measure, this study holds a low power of effect and the results should not be generalized to the population. In considering the numerous limitations of this study, the primary recommendations for future research are replication with a larger sample size and use of the entire CAIMI measure for a more comprehensive data set.


Carissa Jean Krapf

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-4556-0656