Brief Report: Evaluating College Students’ Perceptions of a Child Displaying Stereotypic Behaviors: Do Changes in Stereotypy Levels Affect Ratings?

  • Jodi C. Coon
  • John T. RappEmail author
Brief Report


One reason for treating stereotypic behavior is that it may negatively impact how others perceive the individual displaying the behavior, thus impeding social interactions; however, few studies have directly evaluated this possibility. As a first step toward testing this position, participants (college students) in Study 1 watched 5-min video clips of a child engaging in hand/finger motor stereotypy at varying levels (0%, 17%, 37%, and 40% of the time) while sound was muted. Following each video, participants completed a questionnaire to evaluate their perception of the child. In Study 2, additional participants completed the same questionnaire after watching the same videos with the sound unmuted to determine if the addition of vocal stereotypy altered their perceptions of the child. Results indicate that (a) observers negatively rated the child when he displayed motor stereotypy for 17% or more of a video clip and (b) the addition of vocal stereotypy yielded more negative judgements than motor stereotypy alone.


Leisure time Motor stereotypy Judgements of stereotypy Vocal stereotypy 



We thank Marissa Spiwak, Lydia Lindsay, and Corinne Bloom for assistance with data collection.

Author Contributions

JCC co-conceived and co-designed the experiments, collected data for the study, performed the analyses, and co-wrote the paper. JTR co-conceived and co-designed the experiments and co-wrote the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict 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 consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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