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The Marshmallow Test as Screenings Instrument: Sensitivity and Specificity of a Delay of Gratification Tasks as a Longitudinal Predictor for ADHD and Conduct Problems
  • Bianca Ulitzka,
  • Monika Daseking,
  • Julia Kerner auch Koerner
Bianca Ulitzka
Helmut Schmidt University Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Monika Daseking
Helmut Schmidt University Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Julia Kerner auch Koerner
Helmut Schmidt University Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Abstract

Delay of gratification tasks seem to have an impressive predictive value for several outcomes and are supposed to measure self-regulation. Since many behavioural and psychological problems in children are related to limitations in self-regulation, the extent to which delay tasks can be used as a screening to detect psychopathology is examined. Children (N= 1498; 51% girls) participated in Delay tasks at the age of 3 and 5. Parents rated ADHD and conduct problems at the children‘s age of 5 and 6, which we classified according to cut-offs. Delay at age 3 was related to ADHD at age 5 (OR = 1.84) and conduct at age 6 (OR = 2.61). The results showed high specificity (77-78%) and negative predictive values (95-98%), correctly identifying children below the SDQ cut-off, but low sensitivity (27-42%), deeming the task unsuitable as screening for children at risk. These results were aggravated when considering only the first 20 seconds.