Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dean Cruess, Ph.D.; Rhiannon Smith, Ph.D.

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences


Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access


Objective: Recent research suggests that symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) persist into adulthood, and is associated with specific negative functional outcomes. Long-considered a disorder restricted to children, more research is needed to understand how ODD affects adults. This current study seeks to investigate the prevalence, associated impairments, and structure of ODD symptoms in two college samples of young adults.

Methods: Two large samples of college students between the ages of 18-24 years old (N = 1,848; N = 1,792) completed self-report measures of ODD symptoms, ADHD symptoms, psychiatric diagnoses, and functional impairments. Prevalence of ODD symptoms was calculated, and multiple regression was used to estimate the association between high levels of ODD symptoms and academic, social, and other impairment. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to test a set of five uni- and multi-dimensional models of ODD symptoms.

Results: The prevalence of ODD in college students was estimated to be 2.61% and 3.43% in each sample. Higher levels of ODD symptoms were associated with impairments within several domains even after controlling for other psychopathology. CFA modeling suggests a general ODD bifactor model with correlated subfactors of irritability and oppositional behavior as best fitting for the structure of ODD in young adults.

Conclusions: ODD symptoms measured in young adults appear in similar rates and structure as in child community samples, and are uniquely associated with specific impairments. This study supports the validity of ODD as disorder that can afflict adults, and thus, demands greater consideration by both researchers and clinicians.

MajorĀ Advisor

Jeffrey D. Burke, Ph.D.