Enjoying the attention of others is quite socially acceptable. In some instances, however, the need for attention can lead to difficulties. The term attention seeking (or attention-seeking) is generally reserved for such situations, where excessive and “inappropriate attention seeking” is seen.
The following styles of attention seeking have been identified:
- Extroverted positive overt style - associated with narcissism, bragging and boasting. May also include shocking exhibitionist behavior such as streaking.
- Extroverted positive subdued style - similar but more subtle such as wearing designer clothes, wearing sexy clothes or dominating the conversation.
- Extroverted negative overt style - to gain pity and reassurance.
- Extroverted negative subdued style - making a negative statement to the world by, for example, dressing in an unusual style.
In different pathologies or contexts
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Münchausen by Internet
- Münchausen syndrome
- Münchausen syndrome by proxy
- Personality disorders - A sustained pattern of attention seeking in adults is often associated with, in particular, histrionic personality disorder - but it may instead be associated with narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. The expression drama queen is associated with histrionic behavior.
- Self-destructive behaviour - It is a common misconception that self-destructive behaviour is inherently attention seeking, or at least that attention is a primary motive. While this is undoubtedly true in some cases, normally the motivation runs much deeper than that. Many self-injurers are very self-conscious of their wounds and scars and feel guilty about their behavior leading them to go to great lengths to conceal their behavior from others.
- Voluntary false confession
Tactical ignoring, also known as planned ignoring, is a behavioral management strategy used in response to challenging behavior that seeks to receive attention or to gain a reaction from others. It is a commonly used strategy when the person displaying the attention-seeking behavior still feels rewarded by a negative response.
- Armstrong, K.J & Drabman, R. (1994) The clinical use of sports skills tutoring with grade school boys referred for school behavioural problems. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 16, 43-48.(p.44)
- Styles of Attention-Seeking
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) American Psychiatric Association (2000)
- Truth Hurts Report, Mental Health Foundation, 2006, ISBN 978-1-90364-581-9, http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/?EntryId5=38712, retrieved 2008-06-11
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- Gewirtz, Jacob L A factor analysis of some attention-seeking behaviors of young children Child Development (1956)
- Harvey, Eric & Mellor, Nigel Helping Parents Deal With Attention Seeking Behaviour (2009)
- Leit, Lisa & Jacobvitz, Deborah & Hazen-Swann, Nancy Conversational Narcissism in Marriage: Narcissistic attention seeking behaviors in face-to-face interactions: Implications for marital stability and partner mental health (2008)
- Mellor, Nigel Attention Seeking: A Practical Solution for the Classroom (1997)
- Mellor, Nigel The Good, the Bad and the Irritating: A Practical Approach for Parents of Children who are Attention Seeking (2000)
- Mellor, Nigel Attention Seeking: A Complete Guide for Teachers (2008)
- Smith-Martenz, Arden Attention--seeking misbehaviors (1990)