Social Skills and Internalizing Symptoms in Children With Sluggish Cognitive Tempo

Publication Date



There is a paucity of research into the degree to which children with sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) engage in internalizing behaviors and display social skills deficits. SCT symptoms can exacerbate the symptoms of comorbid disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety, and poor school performance is associated with symptoms of ADHD and SCT. Constructs of SCT, internalizing behaviors, and social impairment were extracted from a battery of neuropsychological tests for 50 children who were struggling academically. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) test determined if students with high levels of SCT had greater social difficulty and endorsed more internalizing symptoms. Additionally, inattentive ADHD was factored out of the results in order to remove ADHD as a potential confounding variable.

Support was found for the first hypothesis: The high SCT group displayed worse social functioning. Specifically, teachers reported greater social difficulty for their students with high SCT in a classroom setting. Support was also found for the second hypothesis: Students with high SCT scored higher on an internalizing measure indicating that they are more withdrawn and depressed. These results are distinct from children with ADHD and this knowledge may allow for applications in creating differing treatment plans for children with SCT. Students with SCT who are withdrawn and depressed in school display social difficulties different than children with inattentive ADHD. Future research should determine appropriate specialized treatment plans for children with SCT that address their social difficulty as well as social withdrawal and depression in school.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Nolty, Anne

Document Type





Concentration functions; Attention; Concentration-deficit disorder; Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT); Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Analysis of variance (ANOVA) test; Social skills; Children; Educational psychology; Developmental psychology; Cognitive psychology; Clinical psychology


Clinical Psychology


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