Natural Social Behaviors in Hyperactive Children: Dose Effects of Methylphenidate

Carol K. Whalen, Barbara Henker, James M. Swanson, Douglas Granger, Wendy Kliewer, Jackie Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The effects of methylphenidate on the social behaviors of hyperactive children between the ages of 6 and 11 were examined during relatively unstructured activities in outdoor settings. The 12 younger (mean age = 7-8 years) and 12 older (mean age = 9-11 years) children received placebo, a low (0.3 mg/kg), and a moderate (0.6 mg/kg) dose of methylphenidate. During recess, lunch, and exercise sessions, trained observers coded the children's actions as either appropriate social, negative social, or nonsocial behavior. Both age groups showed decrements in negative social behaviors when placebo was compared with the low dose of methylphenidate. Only the younger group showed incremental improvement between the low and moderate doses. There were no significant age or dosage effects on the rates of nonsocial behaviors, which remained low throughout the study. Several implications for the treatment of hyperactive children are discussed, including (a) the finding that disruptive behaviors can be reduced successfully without decreasing overall sociability, (b) the importance of interpersonal heterogeneity and the distinction between group and individual patterns of response, and (c) the need to study relationships and friendships as well as social actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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