Differences in social motivation in children with Smith-Magenis Syndrome and Down Syndrome

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Social excesses, characterised by heightened social motivation, are important for describing social functioning. Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS) is a potential exemplar of a disorder where heightened social motivation is associated with negative behavioural outcomes. In Down syndrome (DS) strong social motivation is described, but less commonly associated with behavioural problems. Children with SMS (n = 21) and DS (n = 19) were observed during social situations, in which familiarity of adults present and level of attention available were manipulated. Motivation in SMS was characterised by comparatively frequent social initiations when adult attention was low, and stronger preference for familiar adults, compared to DS. Findings provide insight into the nature of social motivation in SMS and support an argument for nuanced consideration of motivation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2148–2159
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number6
Early online date17 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Social motivation, Neurodevelopmental disorder, Smith–Magenis syndrome, Down syndrome