To test two hypotheses:
- Adults with autism or aspergers will be impaired on theory of mind test.
- Within the normal population, females will do better on the theory of mind test compared to males.
Quasi experiment using independent-measures design and self-report measures.
- IV = whether participant had autism or not
- DV = correct response on 'eyes task'
- Group one - 16 high-functioning autistic people (self-selected)
- Group two - 30 'normal' people (randomly selected)
- Group three - 10 people with tourette's syndrome (from referral centre)
Each participant was tested on 4 tasks - eye task, strange stories task, gender recognition and basic emotion recognition (Ekman).
Participants were tested in a quiet room either in the researcher's clinic, their own home or a lab at Cambridge University.
Performance on eyes task (by condition / mean score out of 25)
- autistic / 16.3
- normal / 20.3
- tourettes / 20.4
Performance on eyes task (by gender / mean score out of 25)
- normal male / 18.8
- normal female / 21/8
- Adults with autism had poorer performance on a subtle theory of mind test, which was not due to low intelligence or having a neuropsychiatric disability.
- Clinically 'normal' females performed better on the eyes task that clinically 'normal' males. Evidence for mpathising-systemising bias?