Research Review: A new perspective on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: emotion dysregulation and trait models


  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

Michelle M. Martel, University of New Orleans, Psychology Department, 2005 Geology & Psychology Building, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA 70148, USA; Tel: 504-280-6776; Fax: 504-280-6049; Email:


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common example of developmental psychopathology that might be able to be better understood by taking an emotion regulation perspective. As discussed herein, emotion regulation is understood to consist of two component processes, emotion (e.g., positive and negative emotionality) and regulation (e.g., effortful and reactive forms of control), which interact with one another at the behavioral level. Review of work to date suggests that the heterogeneous behavioral category of ADHD may encompass two distinct kinds of inputs: inattentive ADHD symptoms may be primarily associated with breakdowns in the regulation side, whereas hyperactivity-impulsive ADHD symptoms may be associated with breakdowns in the emotionality side. It is argued that breakdowns in control may be a signature for ADHD specifically, while increased negative emotionality may serve as non-specific risk factors for disruptive behavior disorders, explaining their comorbidity. Increased understanding of the interrelations and interactions of component emotion regulation processes may elucidate developmental, sex, and neural mechanisms of ADHD and associated comorbid disruptive disorders.