Psychology Studies (3)



Theory Of Mind

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What Is Theory Of Mind?

Theory Of Mind is: 

  • being able to infer the full range of mental states (beliefs, desires, intentions, imagination, emotions, etc.) that cause action.
  • In brief, having a theory of mind is to be able to reflect on the contents of one's own and other's minds." 
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Autism and Theory Of Mind

People with autism ussually have a deficit of Theory of Mind, this is because they have difficulty understanding other people's emotions and body language.

Simon Baron-Cohen dveloped the Thoery Of Mind during his study in 1997. 

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Baron-Cohen Another Advanced Test Of Theory Of Min

Aim of the experiment:

  • To provide more support for cognitive explantion of autism; That autistic adults lack theory of Mind
  • They Theory Of Mind test, in which people have to choose the best word to describe the emotion displayed in a photograph of a persons eyes
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Group 1

  • 16 participants 
  • 13 male and 3 female
  • four with high functioning autism and aspergers syndrome
  • mean IQ of 1.5.3

Group 2

  • 50 participants 
  • 25 male and 15 female
  • drawn from general population of cambridge
  • assumed to have IQ's in the normal range

Group 3

  • Ten participants
  • 8 male and 2 female 
  • All with tourettes syndrome/ Mean IQ of 103.5
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  • Quasi Experiment 
  • Eye Task- 25 standardised black and white photographs of eyes
  • shown for three seconds
  • forced choiced between 2 mental state terms 
  • Asked "which word best describes what this person is thinking or fealing?"
  • Strange stories task- used to check concurrent validity of the eyes task
  • control tasks- gender recognition and basic emotion recognition
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-Group 1 (autism) scored significantly lower on the eyes task than the other 2 groups

-No difference between group 2 (normal) and group 3 (tourettes) 

-Autism: 16.3

-control: 20.3

-Tourettes: 20.4 

-Group 1 more likely to make error on strange stories task than other groups

-No difference between the groups on gender recognition or basic emotion task 

-Females in 'normal' group preformed significantly better than the males on the eyest test. This means females generally have a better Theory of Mind. 

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  • The lack of theory of mind is a core deficit in autism spectrum disorders
  • This explains the poor preformance in the Eye task could not be due to low IQ (as participants in group 1were at normal or above normal IQ)
  • It could not be due to developmental neuro-psychiatric disibility, since the participants with tourettes syndrome had no difficulties with the task. 
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