The Socially Mediated and Automatic Reinforcer Questionnaire (SMARQ)

Author of Tool: 

Klintwall & Eikeseth

Key references: 

Klintwall, L., & Eikeseth, S. (2012). Number and controllability of reinforcers as predictors of individual outcome for children with autism receiving early and intensive behavioral intervention: A preliminary study. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 493-499.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The SMARQ is designed to assess a child's socially mediated reinforcers, or external motivation, and their automatic reinforcers, or behaviours without external motivation.


The SMARQ has been designed for use with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is comprised of two main subscales- external motivation and behaviours without external motivation- and some additional questions that provide additional insight into a child's interest in socially mediated reinforcers and automatic reinforcers.  The external motivation subscale assesses the child's preferences for socially mediated reinforcers such as food and attention. The respondent must indicate whether the child likes or does not like the presented stimuli and whether these stimuli are used in training. The behaviours without external motivation subscale assesses what repetitive behaviours, assumed to be automatically reinforced, that the child engages in. For this subscale, the respondent must indicate whether the child engages in the described behaviours almost every hour of the day or seldom/never. When completed, the SMARQ indicates the number of socially mediated reinforcers and the number of automatic reinforcers that a child has. 

The Socially mediated and Automatic Reinforcer Questionnaire ( SMARQ) does not differentiate between the reinforcing strengths of the stimuli. However, the information it produces can aid with choosing reinforcers to use during training. Furthermore, Klintwall and Eikeseth (2012) found that  a child's repertoire of reinforcers was predictive of their response to early intensive behavioural intervention. Children with more socially mediated reinforcers tended to respond better to treatment than children with a greater number of automatic reinforcers. Thus, it may be important to consider these variables prior to treatment onset. 


The psychometrics of the questionnaire are discussed in Klintwall and Eikeseth (2012).



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