Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 2548–2554 | Cite as

Brief Report: Insistence on Sameness, Anxiety, and Social Motivation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Reina S. Factor
  • Emma E. Condy
  • Julee P. Farley
  • Angela Scarpa
Brief Report


While the function of restricted repetitive behaviors (RRBs) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is unclear, RRBs may function as anxiety reduction strategies (Joosten et al. J Autism Dev Disord 39(3):521–531, 2009. Moreover, anxiety in ASD is associated with low social motivation (Swain et al. J Autism Dev Disord, 2015. The present study examined social motivation as a mediator between anxiety and RRBs in a sample of 44 children (2–17 years old; 80 % male) with ASD. The relationship between anxiety and IS, but not other RRBs, was partially mediated by social motivation. These findings suggest anxiety is linked to social motivation deficits in children with ASD, which may increase ritualized behaviors and difficulties with changes in routine. Implications are discussed for differing functions and treatment of RRB domains.


Restricted repetitive behaviors Insistence on sameness Anxiety Social motivation Autism spectrum disorder 



This research was conducted through the Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research with support from Virginia Tech’s Institute for Society, Culture, and the Environment, Fralin Life Science Institute, and the College of Science. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the parents and children who participated in this study, the clinicians of the VTCAR Assessment Database Team who administered the assessments and provided diagnoses, and the VTCAR Research Assistants who scored data.

Author’s contributions

R.F. conceived of the study and coordination of the manuscript, oversaw the editing process, and assisted in data collection; E.C. conducted the statistical analyses and interpreted results; J.F. assisted with the analyses, writing, and editing of the manuscript; A.S. oversaw the paper completion, consulted on interpretation of results, and edited the manuscript in its entirety.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reina S. Factor
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emma E. Condy
    • 1
  • Julee P. Farley
    • 2
  • Angela Scarpa
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia Polytechnic and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Tech Center for Autism ResearchBlacksburgUSA

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