Improving Neurodiverse Relationships: Comparing Relational Quality and Maintenance Channels in Individuals with and Without ADHD
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Erin Sahlstein Parcell, Mike Allen, Xiaoxia Cao
ADHD, Channel expansion theory, Minority stress, Neurodiversity, Relational maintenance, Relational satisfaction
Individuals with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) process information differently than neurotypical individuals and, consequently, experience behavioral, cognitive, and mood-related problems that are associated with low relational quality and insecure attachment orientations. This dissertation draws on minority stress theory (MST) and channel expansion theory (CET) to understand whether adults with ADHD use specific maintenance strategies and communication technologies to improve their relationships. Specifically, this dissertation advances theories surrounding relational maintenance and relational development by comparing how individuals with and without ADHD use different channels to maintain their relationships and how this influences relational quality over time. Individuals with (n = 59) and without (n = 90) ADHD completed longitudinal surveys about their perceptions of channels, richness, and maintenance in face-to-face and texting contexts. Similar to prior research, the findings demonstrate that individuals with ADHD often experience lower relational quality, but the findings also indicate that when individuals with ADHD have low relational quality, they use F2F communication less, perceive it as less rich, and use fewer maintenance strategies. This implies that if individuals with ADHD used F2F communication more, they might be more satisfied with their relationships. The findings also provide evidence that MST and CET are complimentary in that more than one channel for relational maintenance helps improve the relationships of individuals with ADHD. In addition to offering practical implications for individuals navigating neurodiverse relationships, this dissertation contributes to research in communication and related fields (e.g., family studies and psychology) by offering new theoretical implications for extending CET to F2F contexts.
Kahlow, Jessica A., "Improving Neurodiverse Relationships: Comparing Relational Quality and Maintenance Channels in Individuals with and Without ADHD" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 2677.