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Stranger Danger Awareness in Williams Syndrome

Riby, D.M.; Kirk, H.; Hanley, M.; Riby, L.M.

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H. Kirk


Background: The developmental disorder Williams syndrome (WS) is characterised by a distinctive cognitive profile and an intriguing social phenotype. Individuals with the disorder are often highly social engaging with familiar and unfamiliar people and once in an interaction they often show subtle abnormalities of social behaviour. Atypically increased approach to unfamiliar people is widely reported in the existing literature for both children and adults. Parents frequently report interactions with unfamiliar people as a major concern. Methods: In this study we aimed to evaluate ‘stranger danger’ awareness using a video vignette task with individuals who had WS. When linked to other components of the WS phenotype (e.g. reduced intellectual ability, increased social approach) an awareness of stranger danger is particularly important. Results: Qualitative and quantitative data showed that young people with WS have difficulties making judgements about whether or not to trust and engage in conversation with unfamiliar people. Qualitative data showed that individuals with WS often suggested that they would engage in an interaction with an unfamiliar person. Conclusions: The findings have substantial implications for the safety of young people with the disorder and emphasise the need for intervention regarding this behaviour.


Riby, D., Kirk, H., Hanley, M., & Riby, L. (2014). Stranger Danger Awareness in Williams Syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58(6), 572-582.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 9, 2013
Online Publication Date May 29, 2013
Publication Date Jun 1, 2014
Deposit Date Sep 30, 2013
Publicly Available Date Mar 27, 2014
Journal Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
Print ISSN 0964-2633
Electronic ISSN 1365-2788
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 6
Pages 572-582


Accepted Journal Article (423 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Riby, D. M., Kirk, H., Hanley, M. and Riby, L. M. (2014), Stranger danger awareness in Williams syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58 (6): 572–582, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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