Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Lauren Moskowitz

Second Advisor

Mark Terjesen

Third Advisor

Marlene Sotelo-Dynega


Previous research has demonstrated associations between restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) and anxiety, RRBs and aggression, and anxiety in aggression in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet no study has investigated the nature of the relationship between all three constructs. As such, the goal of the present study was to test the hypothesis that anxiety mediates the relationship between RRBs and aggression. Participants consisted of 115 parent(s)/guardian(s) of children with ASD who completed parent/caregiver-report questionnaires on the frequency and severity of their child’s RRBs, anxiety symptoms, and aggressive behaviors. The present study is the first to use construct-specific measures of anxiety and aggression that were normed on and developed for youth with ASD, as well as the first to use Bishop and colleagues’ (2013) five-factor RRB structure (which divides RRBs into sensory-motor, self-injurious, compulsive, restricted interests, and ritualistic/sameness behaviors) to test this association. Results of this study suggest that anxiety significantly mediated the relationship between overall RRBs (as a unitary construct) and aggression. At a more granular level, anxiety significantly mediated the relationship between four out of five RRB subcategories (self-injury, compulsive, restricted interests, and ritualistic behaviors/sameness) and aggression. These findings contribute to the limited literature on the relationship between RRBs, anxiety, and aggression in youth with ASD and have important implications for treatment and clinical practice.

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Psychology Commons