Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Michael Spezio

Reader 2

Sheila Walker

Rights Information

© 2014 Sarah P. Johnston


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) with no cure (Hall, 2011). A variety of treatments exist to help with symptoms and one therapy is applied behavior analysis (ABA) (Virues-Ortega, 2010). ABA works by providing rewarding stimuli, specifically verbal praise, to encourage positive behavior. Most of the current research related to autism and ABA has been done in the US or other western countries (Hall, 2011), but studies show that verbal praise motivates people differently in different cultures (Henderlong & Lepper, 2002). One of these differences occurs between individualist and collectivist cultures. The current study will manipulate verbal praise administered in ABA therapy in two different countries, the United States, an individualist culture, and South Korea, a collectivist culture. There will be two types of ABA interventions: type A, with individualist-focused verbal praise and type B, with collectivist-focused verbal praise. Thirty children from each country will receive type A and 40 from each country will receive type B. The results would likely confirm the hypotheses which are: 1) that children with an individualist upbringing will have a greater improvement in symptoms with intervention type A than children with a collectivist upbringing, and 2) that children with a collectivist upbringing will have greater symptom improvement with intervention type B than children with an individualist upbringing. Further directions regarding the development of treatments for children with autism are discussed. This research will help to provide insight into the importance of considering culture when treating children with autism.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.