Factor structure of a sluggish cognitive tempo scale in clinically-referred children

Lisa A. Jacobson, Sarah C. Murphy-Bowman, Alison E. Pritchard, Ariana Tart-Zelvin, T. Andrew Zabel, E. Mark Mahone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) is a construct hypothesized to describe a constellation of behaviors that includes daydreaming, lethargy, drowsiness, difficulty sustaining attention, and underactivity. Although the construct has been inconsistently defined, measures of SCT have shown associations with symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), particularly inattention. Thus, better characterization of SCT symptoms may help to better predict specific areas of functional difficulty in children with ADHD. The present study examined psychometric characteristics of a recently developed 14-item scale of SCT (Penny et al.; Psychological Assessment 21:380-389, 2009), completed by teachers on children referred for outpatient neuropsychological assessment. Exploratory factor analysis identified three factors in the clinical sample: Sleepy/Sluggish, Slow/Daydreamy, and Low Initiation/Persistence. Additionally, SCT symptoms, especially those loading on the Sleepy/Sluggish and Slow/Daydreamy factors, correlated more strongly with inattentive than with hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, while Low Initiation/Persistence symptoms added significant unique variance (over and above symptoms of inattention) to the predictions of impairment in academic progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1327-1337
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • ADHD
  • Academic performance
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattention
  • Rating scale
  • Reliability
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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