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Cute Aggression in Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

August 22, 2022 - August 22, 2023

Cute aggression is defined as the urge some people get to squeeze, crush, or bite cute things, without any desire to cause harm. The emotional and behavioral mechanisms underlying cute aggression have not been examined in young children. This study will further our understanding of the interplay of emotion regulation and social cognition in children with and without ASD.

What are the goals of the study?

The purpose of this study is to better understand how emotion regulation, empathy, and theory of mind may impact the perception of cuteness in children with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participation in the study will involve two online sessions completed via Zoom. During the first Zoom session, child participants will be administered a cognitive assessment and parent participants will be sent a link via Qualtrics to fill out questionnaires about their child. During the second Zoom session, child participants will listen to a story, view images of cute animals, watch short videos, and be asked to answer some questions about the story, images, and videos. The total duration for participation time will be one hour or two 30- minute sessions. Participants will be paid $10 via Amazon gift card for their participation. Participants will still be compensated for their participation even if they decide to discontinue their participation in the middle of the study.

How will this help families?

As feelings of cute aggression are related to feelings of overwhelm and caretaking, study findings will also inform efforts to improve prosocial skills for children with ASD, ultimately discovering new, groundbreaking ways of better supporting children with ASD.

Eligibility Criteria

For children with autism, exclusionary criteria include: a diagnosis of intellectual disability, as this would make comprehending instructions difficult, premature birth that may affect cognitive abilities; or any aversive fears or phobias to animal stimuli that will be presented in the study. For typically developing children, exclusionary criteria include: immediate family history of autism, obsessive- compulsive disorder, specific language impairment, or any other developmental disorders; any diagnosis of a learning disability, intellectual disability, or psychiatric disorder (e.g. ADHD, depression, anxiety); premature birth that may affect cognitive abilities; or any aversive fears or phobias to animal stimuli that will be presented in the study.

View the study flyer here.

Contact Information
Research Study Website
UCRiverside Social Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience Lab

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