Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 12, pp 4709–4720 | Cite as

Responses to Vignettes Depicting Friendship Transgressions: Similarities and Differences in Children With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Kristen Bottema-BeutelEmail author
  • Caitlin Malloy
  • Josephine Cuda
  • So Yoon Kim
  • Julie MacEvoy
Original Paper


We examined children’s responses to vignettes depicting a child making one of four friendship transgressions; failing to provide validation, failing to provide help, being an unreliable partner, and betrayal. Twenty elementary students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 21 typically developing (TD) students participated. Children rated emotional responses, the strategies they would use following each transgression, interpretations of transgressions, and goals of their responses. Children with ASD rated sadness lower than TD children, and rated verbal aggression strategies higher than TD children. There were several significant correlations between emotional responses and goals, strategies, and interpretations in the ASD group. Betrayal was considered the most severe transgression. These results will aid researchers aiming to support friendship maintenance in children with ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Friendships Conflict Friendship transgressions 



We would like to thank Jessica Barnes and Maryam Moravvej Farshi for their assistance in conducting this research. We would also like to thank the teachers and parents who assisted in coordinating or providing data, and the many participants who agreed to complete the interview surveys.

Author Contributions

KBB participated in the study design, supervised data collection, conducted the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. CM coordinated recruitment and data collection, conducted participant interviews, and participated in editing the manuscript. JC participated in data collection, and in editing the manuscript. SYK assisted in data analysis and in editing the manuscript. JM participated in the study design and statistical analysis, and edited the manuscript.


This research was not supported by any specific funding source.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed parental consent and participant assent was obtained from all individuals prior to their participation in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lynch School of EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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