Decision-Making Deficits in ADHD Are Not Related to Risk Seeking But to Suboptimal Decision-Making: Meta-Analytical and Novel Experimental Evidence

Tycho J. Dekkers, Joost A. Agelink van Rentergem, Hilde M. Huizenga, Hamutal Raber, Rachel Shoham, Arne Popma, Yehuda Pollak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: ADHD is related to decision-making deficits in real-life (e.g., substance abuse) and on experimental tasks (increased preference for risky options). In most tasks, risk and expected value are confounded (risky options have lowest expected value), making it impossible to disentangle risky from suboptimal (i.e., not choosing highest expected value) decision-making. We differentiated between risky and suboptimal decision-making in ADHD in two studies. Method and Results: First, on a multilevel meta-regression analysis (k = 48, n_ADHD = 1,144, n_Control = 1,108), ADHD and controls differed if the risky option was suboptimal (ADHD choosing more risky/suboptimal), whereas groups performed similar if the risky option was not suboptimal. Second, an empirical study showed that adults with ADHD (n = 40) made more suboptimal, but not more risky choices than controls (n = 40). Conclusion: These results contribute to a growing body of evidence that decision-making deficits in ADHD are driven by suboptimal decision-making and not by risk seeking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-501
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number4
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

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