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Executive Functioning in Children with Positive Illusory Bias: Examining the Relationship between Cognitive Characteristics and Self-Perception




Mooney, Clarissa

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Optimistic self-perception has been demonstrated to be a common phenomenon in the general population (Bouffard, et al., 1998; Harter, 1988; Mezulis, et al., 2004; Sedikides, et al., 2005). The phenomena of biased perceptions of competence has been well documented in children with ADHD and has come to be known as positive illusory bias (PIB). Though overestimations of competence appear to exist in the general population, the examination of the negative sequelae of inflated self-views in children and the causal factors related to misperception have largely focused on children with ADHD as well as other clinical populations. Recently, researchers have sought to understand the role of cognitive deficits, particularly executive functioning (EF), in the presence of PIB in children with ADHD (McQuade et al., 2011) and populations with other know frontal lobe deficits. The aim of the present study was to expand upon the PIB literature by examining the relationship between executive functioning and PIB in a general sample of 68 children (8 to 13 years) across domains of academic, social, and behavioral functioning using the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS; Delis, Kaplan, & Kramer, 2001) and child and teacher ratings of the Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC; Harter, 1985). EF composites were developed based on factor analysis by Latzman and Markon (2010), specifically Conceptual Flexibility, Monitoring, and Inhibition constructs. In addition to the three EF composites, working memory (Digit Span Backwards; Wechsler, 2003) was included as an EF variable. Results indicated specific EF deficits relative to PIB in each domain of functioning, but in a pattern somewhat contrary to predictions. Level of PIB in the academic domain were predicted by Conceptual Flexibility whereas Monitoring predicted PIB in the social domain. PIB in the behavioral domain was not predicted by any of the EF constructs though was correlated with working memory. Results lend additional support for cognitive deficits in children with PIB and extend the findings outside the field of ADHD.