The role of executive functions in hyperfocusing and flow experiences in people with ADHD traits

Garcia Pimenta, M., Fuermaier, A., Tucha, L., Tucha, O. & Groen, Y., 2019.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

Objectives: To explore the association between hyperfocusing (a state of intense concentration on a task associated with the failure to attend to other stimuli) and flow (a state of optimal experience during task performance) in individuals with varying degrees of ADHD traits. Higher degrees of ADHD traits were hypothesized to be associated with more self-reported hyperfocusing but not with higher flow proneness. Additionally, we proposed that deficits in executive
functioning mediate the relationship between the ADHD traits and hyperfocusing/flow. Methods: First-year Psychology students of the University of
Groningen (N = 320) participated in an online survey in exchange of
course credits. A multiple regression model investigated the association
between the Hyperfocusing Scale (HS), the Swedish Flow Proneness Questionnaire (SFPQ) and the Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scale (CAARS) ADHD index. We used mediation analysis to investigate the role of executive functions, as measured by the Barkley Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale (BDEFS for Adults), in mediating these effects.
Results: A significant multiple linear regression equation (R2 = .26, F
(2, 318) = 55.75, p\.001) supported the hypothesis that the ADHD
index scores were positively predicted by the HS scores (b = .36,
p\.001) and negatively by the SFPQ scores (b = - .31, p\.001). Mediation analysis revealed a significant indirect effect of ADHD traits on hyperfocusing through executive functions deficits, ab = 0.15, BCa CI [0.05, 0.24] with the mediator accounting for more than one third of the overall effect, PM = .36. Mediation analysis also revealed a significant indirect effect of ADHD traits on flow proneness through executive functions deficits, ab = - 0.01, BCa CI
[- 0.016, - 0.006]. Executive functions accounted for more than two thirds of the total effect of ADHD traits on flow proneness, PM = .68. Conclusions: More problems in executive functions in individuals with ADHD traits may explain difficulties to attend to the world and personal needs during states of intense attentional focus on a range of activities. Such difficulties are also likely to play an important role in the lesser sense of control, effortless attention and enjoyment in everyday tasks. In the future, interventions targeting executive functions may significantly reduce the negative consequences of
hyperfocusing and promote the positive consequences of flow states among individuals with ADHD traits.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event7th World Congress on ADHD - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 25-Apr-201928-Apr-2019


Conference7th World Congress on ADHD
Internet address


7th World Congress on ADHD


Lisbon, Portugal

Event: Conference


  • adhd, hyperfocus, flow, attention, executive functions, self-report

ID: 88756988