Slides in this set
Adults with autistic spectrum disorders have problems
with social relationships. Research using 1st order
Theory of Mind (TOM) tasks has found that
children diagnosed as autistic are not able to
reason what another person is thinking (example of
1st order TOM task is the `Sally Ann' test). Normal
children develop the ability to `read minds' by the
age of 6 but the Sally Ann test is not appropriate for
The aim of the study was to find out why adults with
autistic spectrum disorders have problems with
social relationships and to develop an advanced
test for theory of mind in adults with Autism.
Theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states
- beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge,
etc. - to oneself and others and to understand that
others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are
different from one's own.
Simon Baron-Cohen…read more
Hypothesis: `adults with Asperger Syndrome (autism) can't interpret states of
mind from reading eyes.'
Natural experiment with a matched participant design.
3 groups of participants: 16 autistic (Asperger), 13 male, 3 female. 50 normal,
25 male, 25 female. 10 Tourette's patients, 8 male, 2 female. Participants
matched on age and normal intelligence. The 2 clinical groups had passed
1st order theory of mind tests at 6-year-old level.
IV = Normal, Autistic, Tourette's Syndrome DV = performance on eye task
(maximum score = 25)…read more
The `eye task' procedure
25 photos of eyes, each 15 x 10cm black and white, were each shown for 3
seconds. Participants, tested individually, were asked a forced-choice
The `eye task' was created by selecting magazine photos, and 4 judges
generated the target words e.g. target = calm, foil = anxious.
The target is the correct answer, the foil is the opposite.
Serious vs Playful Reflective vs Unreflective…read more
Controls and Control tasks
· When generating targets and foils the eye photos were shown to a panel of 8
adults who did not know there was a `right or wrong' answer and there was
100% agreement with the target.
(i) Gender identification: all participants asked to identify the gender of each
of the 25 eye photos
(ii) Basic emotion task: all participants asked to identify the emotion in full-
face photos, happy, sad, angry, afraid, surprise, disgust (Ekman categories).…read more
The Autistic adults were less likely to identify the Target foil than the Normal
or Tourette's group.
Autistic Normal Tourette's
Mean 16.3 20.3 20.4
Range 10 9 9
24.1 23.3 23.7
Females were better at reading minds from eyes than Males.
Mean 18.8 21.8
Range 6 5