Are Sluggish Cognitive Tempo, ADHD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder Trait- or State-Like Constructs from Prekindergarten to Fourth Grade?
The objective was to determine the proportion of trait (consistency across occasions) and occasion-specific variance in sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-inattention (IN), ADHD-hyperactivity/impulsivity (HI), and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptom ratings. A single trait factor-multiple state factors model was applied to parent ratings of SCT, ADHD-IN, ADHD-HI, and ODD symptoms for 978 children (50% female) across prekindergarten (M= 4.90 years), kindergarten (M = 6.27 years), 1st-grade (M = 7.42 years), 2nd-grade (M = 8.45 years), and 4th-grade (M = 10.45 years) assessments. For the prekindergarten assessment, SCT, ADHD-IN, ADHD-HI, and ODD contained more occasion-specific than trait variance (54%, 64%, 56%, and 55% occasion-specific variance, respectively). In contrast, SCT, ADHD-IN, ADHD-HI, and ODD contained more trait than occasion-specific variance for the kindergarten through 4th-grade assessments (62%-72%, 65%-68%, 71%-75%, and 60%-69% trait variance, respectively). SCT, ADHD-IN, ADHD-HI, and ODD are slightly to moderately more state-like than trait-like during the prekindergarten developmental period but are more stable traits than fluctuating states from kindergarten to 4th grade. Findings indicate that, particularly after children start formal schooling, these psychopathology dimensions are primarily stable traits; implications for assessment are discussed.