For my second blog I am going to focus on a different complex need that has become increasingly common within the class room, Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD. ODD is a condition first displayed in early childhood that is characterised by ongoing patterns of anger, irritable mood, defiant, argumentative behavior and vindictive tendencies towards people of authority. These behavioral obstacles disrupt daily activities within family life and academic life (WebMD, 2005-2017). Many children and teens who are diagnosed with ODD also suffer from other behavioral problems such as ADHD, learning disabilities, mood and anxiety disorders (such as depression or severe social anxiety).­­­ Some children can even develop a behavioral disorder CD or conduct disorder, which consist of behavioral patterns consistent with antisocial behavior and the violation of social norms and other individuals rights (Wikipedia, 2017). The exact cause of ODD is not known, however combination of genetic, environment and biological factors are believe to contribute to the disorder.

Looking at a study in 2001, including 88 preschool boys with ODD and 80 boys believed to not process ODD (meaning non-disruptive boys, assesses three times in two years to be sure). The study looked to answer three questions; (1) Is there a distinction in social-cognitive abilities between boy with and without ODD? (2) What is the correlation with preschooler’s social-cognitive process and behavioral problems? (3) Does ODD and ADHD coincide with one another (Coy, Speltz, DeKlyen, & Jones, 2001)? As both disorders have similar symptoms and deficits.

In the study the participants were presented with a peer oriented hypothetical problem, boy with ODD generated fewer responses, and if they did respond they were twice more likely than those without ODD to present an aggressive or violent solution. As well as they were less accurate with encoding social information, this was linked to verbal IQ and language skill. However there was no difference in response evaluation and attribution, or a correlation with ADHD. The study also found that ODD was typically found in boys (reasoning for the all boy study) and is often initially miss diagnosed as ADHD. The only real distinctive difference between the two is physical aggression and consistent antisocial behavior.

A deficit to interpersonal sensitivity and emotional reactivity are core features found in ODD children, therefore they have issues with social cues and often attribute hostile intentions to other’s behavior, (Coy, SPeltz, DeKlyen, & Jones, 2001) leaving children with ODD socially unskilled, socially rejected and deficits in problem solving skills. Children with ODD also believe that acting out in an aggressive manner will have positive results, due to their stunted social knowledge.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder can manifest into a life time of antisocial behavior and other psychopathically tendencies (such as Conduct disorder, as discussed earlier, and antisocial personality disorder), if there is no inference or treatment. Treatment method is determined by multiple factors such as the child’s age, severity of symptoms and the child’s ability to cope. Most commonly a combination of psychotherapy and medication are administered (WebMD, 2005-2017).

In my previous blog notifying the peers of a child with ADHD can be detrimental to the positive of their social interaction, however in regards to ODD notifying the child’s peer can be beneficial as the response to the child’s out bursts is crucial. As I mention before children with ODD believe that aggressive behavioral responses will result in positive effects, therefore if their peers laugh and react in a way that could be perceived as a positive response, a child with ODD (having poor social cue recognition) will view their reaction as positive reinforcement.


Coy K., Speltz M. L., DeKlyen M., & Jones K. (2001). Social–Cognitive Processes in Preschool Boys with and Without Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29(2), 107-119

WebMD (2005-2017). Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Mental Health. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2017). Conduct Disorder. Retrieved from


5 thoughts on “Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Social Cognition.

  1. I really enjoyed your blog post this week, I think ODD is quite an interesting topic. ODD is at the moment classified as a childhood only disorder, but I found an article that believes the age range should be extended. The study said that ODD also proceeds into adolescents, and it can accurately predict the level of social functioning the individual will have as an adult. Having ODD as a child was associated with poorer romantic relationships, issues in the workplace, poor maternal relationship, and lower academic success in adulthood. The researchers said that because the symptoms persist into adolescence, and can predict adulthood functionality, the age range should be extended. From the results of this longitudinal study, it sounds as though the symptoms do not disappear, and they continue to have the same issues, as well as added ones such as workplace issues, in their adulthood. This could be due to the peer rejection you talked about. If they don’t form prosocial relationships then they can’t develop social skills.
    Burke, J. D., Rowe, R., & Boylan, K. (2014). Functional outcomes of child and adolescent oppositional defiant disorder symptoms in young adult men. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 55(3), 264-272.


  2. very interesting topic. one thing that I find with ODD is that is can occur so much with ADHD, that its like have 2 disorders also known as Comorbidity. SO this would be like having schizophrenia and BPD. to which from personal experience it can be quite detrimental in adulthood. with ODD, as a child who has ODD and ADHD, it can be a way to get attention from the people by being defiant, but in adulthood, you can’t stomp your feet and pout in order to get attention, which is where there can be such difficulty in getting and maintaining a job and relationships. the one thing with social skills and relationships in adulthood can be partially based on learning in childhood. with ODD which is more of a childhood disorder, the negative learning from this can impact how you function in adulthood, so with this being said, learning and conditioning of how to survive and thrive in the adult world should be part of treatment with ODD and ADHD.


    Angold, A., Costello, E., & Erkanli, A. (2017). Comorbidity. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from

    What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder – Mental Health Help with Kati Morton. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from


  3. Really interesting blog! I’m very curious about why the disorder is present (or possibly just diagnosed more) in boys. “Oppositional defiant disorder is more common in boys than girls before puberty; the disorder typically begins by age eight. After puberty the male: female ratio is about 1:1.”(Doermann & Frey, 2011). This could possibly be due to nature or nurture and I wonder if nurturing such as social norms for girls and women relating to authority play a part in the difference in diagnosis for males versus females. For example, girls are often taught to be quieter, politer and are told they are bossy when they are assertive which could possibly stifle or downplay the apparent symptoms of ODD like “often argues with adults” and “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
    often deliberately annoys people” (Doermann, 2011).

    Doermann, David James, and Rebecca Frey. “Oppositional Defiant Disorder.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health: Infancy through Adolescence, edited by Jacqueline L. Longe, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2011, pp. 1632-1634. Gale Virtual


  4. The correlations between ODD, ADHD and CD have been largely debated between researchers over the last couple of decades. Does ODD lead to CD? Is ODD just subsyndromal of CD? How often are ODD and ADHD comorbid? These kinds of questions are addressed by Biederman et al. (1996). At baseline and 4 years later, 120 normal controls were studied in contrast to 140 children with ADHD through multiple assessments. The results were rather clear cut: 65% of baseline-ADHD children had comorbid ODD, while 22% had comorbid CD. As for the cause-and-effect relationship, “all but one child with CD also had ODD that preceded the onset of CD by several years. ” Additionally, “ODD+CD children had more severe symptoms of ODD, more comorbid psychiatric disorders, lower Global Assessment of Functioning Scale scores, more bipolar disorder, and more abnormal Child Behavior Checklist clinical scale scores compared with ADHD children with nonCD ODD and those without ODD or CD.”

    Whether this settles the score about the comorbidities of ODD or not is still up for debate. However, Biederman et al. conclude that there are in fact two identifiable subtypes of ODD associated with ADHD:

    1. ODD associated with ADHD that is prodromal to CD
    2. ODD associated with ADHD that is subsyndromal to CD but not likely to progress into CD in later years

    This being said, the more we learn about these disorders and syndromes, the more we have to specify individual subjects’ cases, as “these ODD subtypes have different correlates, course, and outcome,” the study concludes.

    Biederman, J., Faraone, S. V., Milberger, S., Jetton, J. G., Chen, L., Mick, E., . . . Russell, R. L. (1996). Is Childhood Oppositional Defiant Disorder a Precursor to Adolescent Conduct Disorder? Findings from a Four-Year Follow-up Study of Children with ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(9), 1193-1204. doi:10.1097/00004583-199609000-00017


  5. Very interesting blog! After reading it I wanted to look into the best ways to deal with ODD, or treat the disorder. I found that therapies for ODD focus on the entire family, not just the oppositional child. By focusing on the parents, and even siblings, therapists can help the members of the family respond appropriately to outbursts and understand the child with an ODD diagnosis better. Treatment for the child usually is focused on creating cognitive skills to deal with situations that upset them, and building social skills to build better peer groups. Not every child will need the same type of therapy and not every child will benefit from therapy. It really does seem to be individually based around the severity of the ODD and the underlying causes of the behavior.


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