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  • Baron-Cohen
    • Theories
      • Autistic people lack a ToM
      • They struggle to understand inferred behaviour
    • Background
      • Adults cannot be tested for ToM as children's ToM tests are far too easy
      • Happe tested adults and found they struggled with the ToM test compared to normal adults
      • Baron-Cohen aimed to build on Happe's research
    • Research Method
      • Quasi/natural experiment
      • IV: adults likely to have impaired ToM (AS/HFA/ Tourettes/ normal). This was naturally occuring
      • DV: performance out of 25
      • Ps' were shown 25 b+w standardised photographs of eyes (male and female) and asked to make a choice between two mental states (target and foil) to describe the photo
      • Independent measures
      • All ps' were of normal intelligence
    • Sample
      • Group 1: 16 people with HFA (4)/AS (12). There were 13m:3f. Recruited through an ad in the National Autistic magazine/ clinical sources
      • Group 2: 50 normal adults (25m:25f), from subject panel of a university. From the general population of Cambridge 
      • Group 3: 10 adults with Tourettes, 8m:2f. From a tertiary referral centre in London
      • All groups were age matched
    • Procedure
      • Eyes task/ Strange Stories task/Gender Recognition of Eyes Task/Basic Recognition Task were all presented randomly
      • Basic Emotion Recognition Task was done to check whether difficulties on the Eyes Task were due to basic emotional recognition. The Strange Stories Task was used to validate the results from the Eyes Task
      • Ps' were tested alone in a quiet room at home/in the researchers’ clinic or in the researchers’ lab at Cambridge Uni
    • Results
      • The mean score for adults with TS (20.4) was not significantly different from normal adults (20.3) but both were significantly higher than the autism/AS mean score (16.3)
      • Normal females performed significantly better than normal males on the Eyes Task (21.8 compared to 18.8) but the normal males were significantly better than the autism/AS group (18.8 compared to 16.3)
      • The autism/AS group made significantly more errors on the Strange Stories task 
      • In the strange stories, no ps' with TS made any errors but those with autism/AS were significantly impaired
    • Conclusions
      • Adults with ASD/AS do possess an impaired theory of mind
      • Some of the ASD/AS group have degrees and were all of normal intelligence, so ToM deficits are independent of general intelligence


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