Baron Cohen Summary

Detailed summary of Baron Cohens core study.

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  • Created on: 02-03-15 11:48
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Baron Cohen
Theory of Mind ­ the ability to infer, in other people, states of mind such as
beliefs, desires, imaginations or emotions
ToM tests for 6 y/o's have a ceiling effect ­ the data cannot take on a value higher
than some `ceiling' therefore the task is not assessing abilities above the ceiling
To investigate if highfunctioning autistic adults or adults with Asperger's
syndrome had impaired theory of mind using the reading in the mind's eye task
To investigate when men or women in the general `normal' population did better
in the eyes task as women have a tendency to be better at interpreting emotions
Triad of autistic impairments:
Lack of imagination ­ difficulty in interpersonal play
Communication issues ­ difficulty with verbal or nonverbal communication, e.g.
interpreting facial expression or tone of voice
Social interaction issues ­ difficulties with social relationships
Group Ppts Number Sampling method
Group 1 Adults with high 16 Recruited though an ad in National
functioning autism or 13 males Autistic Society magazine
Asperger's syndrome 3 females Volunteer sample
Normal intelligence
Group 2 `Normal' adults with no 50 Taken from Cambridge University
Control history of any psychiatric 25 males Opportunity sample
Group disorders and with normal 25 females
Group 3 Adults with Tourette's 10 Taken from referral clinics in
syndrome of normal 8 men London
intelligence 2 women This group was used because of
(Tourette's is another Mirrors ratio the similarities between autism
developmental condition) of group 1 and TS ­ abnormalities in frontal

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The eyes task, strange stories task and two control tasks were presented in a random
order to all ppts in a quiet room individually, in their home, a clinic or lab
The Eyes Task ­ All ppts
This involved looking at 25 black and white pictures of eyes from males and
females from midway up the nose to just passed the eyebrows , and having to
select what they think that persons state of mind is from a choice of two options
(opposites) ­…read more

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Design: Quasi experiment ( because the IV occurred naturally ­ whether they had
autism or not )
Matched pairs design ­ ppts age and intelligence matched
IV: type of person likely to have ToM deficits tested in three conditions:
Adults with high functioning autism or AS, normal adults, adults w/
DV: score out of 25 of the eyes test
Also, the difference in the scores on the eyes tests between normal adult males and
females was also tested
Mean scores on the eyes…read more

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The autism/AS impairment is:
Not due to low intelligence because Eyes task scores did not correlate w/ IQ
Not the results of just any neuropsychiatric disability as TS ppts performed
Not due to having difficulty interpreting context
Ecological validity:
Much simpler than real life situation
It is static whereas in real life people are in motion
Could have used movies but interpreting movies involves more than just ToM
Significance of the eyes:
The eyes task involved interpreting the mentalistic significance of the eyes,
which…read more


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