The aim of this paper was to provide an initial validation of a newly developed parent questionnaire—the Stanford Social Dimensions Scale (SSDS), designed to capture individual differences across several key social dimensions including social motivation in children and adolescents with and without psychiatric disorders.
The initial validation sample was comprised of parents of 175 individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (35 females, 140 males;
Mage = 7.19 years, SDage = 3.96) and the replication sample consisted of 624 parents of children who were either typically developing or presented with a range of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders (302 females, 322 males; Mage = 11.49 years, SDage = 4.48). Parents from both samples completed the SSDS and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2). Results
Exploratory Structural Equation Modeling indicated that a 5-factor model provided adequate to excellent fit to the data in the initial ASD sample (comparative fit index [CFI] = .940, Tucker-Lewis Index [TLI] = .919, root mean square error of approximation [RMSEA] = .048, standardized root mean square residual [SRMR] = .038). The identified factors were interpreted as Social Motivation, Social Affiliation, Expressive Social Communication, Social Recognition, and Unusual Approach. This factor structure was further confirmed in Sample 2 (CFI = 946, TLI = .930, RMSEA = .044, SRMR = .026). Internal consistency for all subscales was in the good to excellent range across both samples as indicated by Composite Reliability scores of ≥ .72. Convergent and divergent validity was strong as indexed by the pattern of correlations with relevant SRS-2 and Child Behavior Checklist domains and with verbal and non-verbal intellectual functioning scores in Sample 1 and with the Need to Belong Scale and Child Social Preference Scale scores in Sample 2. Across both samples, females had higher social motivation and expressive social communication scores. Discriminant validity was strong given that across all SSDS subscales, the ASD sample had significantly higher impairment than both the typically developing group and the group with other clinical conditions, which in turn, had significantly higher impairment than the typically developing group.
Our findings provide initial validation of a new scale designed to comprehensively capture individual differences in social motivation and other key social dimensions in ASD.