Differential Diagnosis of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo Symptoms in College Students

Benjamin J. Lovett, Whitney L.M. Wood, Lawrence J. Lewandowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) refers to a set of symptoms that prior research has found to be related to several different psychological disorders, especially the predominantly inattentive presentation of ADHD. This study collected evidence relevant to the question of whether SCT is a distinct disorder. Method: College students (N = 910) completed measures of SCT, ADHD, depression, anxiety, sleep quality, and substance misuse. Results: Students reporting clinically high SCT (reporting at least five symptoms often or very often) had significantly higher levels and rates of other types of psychopathology. Moreover, when students reporting clinically significant levels of ADHD, depression, and anxiety symptoms, poor sleep quality, or hazardous levels of alcohol or cannabis use were removed, very few students reporting high SCT remained (only 4.8% of the original high-SCT group). Conclusion: SCT may be best thought of as a symptom set common to many types of psychopathology, and it may be caused by sleep problems or substance misuse as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1251-1259
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • diagnostic issues
  • diagnostic validity
  • sluggish cognitive tempo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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