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What was the background of the study?
Sally-Anne Test: 2 dolls called Sally and Anne. Sally has a basket and Anne has a box. Sally puts a marble in her basket, then leaves. Anne takes the marble and puts it in her box. Sally comes back. Child asked "Where will Sally look for the marble?"
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What year was this study conducted?
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To investigate if high functioning adults with autism and AS would be impaired on a theory of mind test. Also interested if males would do better than females.
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3 groups: 16 p's(13m,3f) with autism or AS, normal intelligence, mean IQ=105. 50 age-matched adults (25m,25f), from Cambridge, No mental illnesses, normal intelligence. 10 p's with Tourette's Syndrome(8m,2f), age-matched to group 1&2. Mean IQ=103.5
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How were the sample selected?
Autistic: Self-selected, advert in the national autistic society magazine and through clinics. Normal adults: Randomly selected from university department.
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IV & DV?
IV=Participant used (Tourettes, normal, autistic) DV=performance of the test
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Quasi Experiment, Lab experiment, Independent measures
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Quantitative only.
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Name the tasks given and how they were presented.
The Eyes Task, Strange stories task and 2 control tasks: Basic Emotion Recognition & Gender Recognition. They were presented in a random order, to all participants individually in their own home, in a researcher's clinic or at the Uni lab.
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Outline the Eye task
Shown 25 different faces with only eye region (midway along nose to above eyebrows) showing. Photos taken from magazines and turned black&white. Each picture shown for 3 seconds only, asked to choose between 2 mental state terms - actual and foil.
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Outline the Strange Stories Task
Only tested participants from groups 1&3. Asked to reach each short story and then answer 2 questions, all similar for each story.
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Outline the Gender Recognition Control Task
Shown the same 25 photos as the Eye Task but asked to identify if they were male or female. This was used as it uses face perception, social perception and perceptual discrimination, which are the main problems autistics face.
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Outline the Basic Emotion Recognition Control Task
Shown whole faces which show the 6 basic emotions, according to the Ekman categories. Included: Sad, happy, angry, afraid, disgust and surprise. Given 2 mental state terms to choose from. Used to see if difficulties in Eye Task came from this.
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What question was asked?
"Which word best describes what this person is thinking or feeling?"
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Outline the results.
Autistic participants found Eye Task hardest, scoring on average 16.3/25. Tourettes and normal scored similarly with average scores of 20.4 and 20.3 respectively. Strange stories-Tourettes=no mistakes, autistic=many. No differences in control.
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Were there any difference between genders in the Eye Task in the normal group?
Yes. Males mean=18.8. Females mean=21.8. Females better at reading emotions.
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Strengths of Study
Lab experiment - cause and effect established&high control. High reliability as tasks were repeated, reduced order effects. Quasi-IV not manipulated.
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Weaknesses of Study
Low EV-only 3secs, no context/body language. Small sample with differing levels of autism so not representative. Only quantitative data.
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Define: Theory of Mind
The ability to attribute mental states, beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, to oneself and others and to understand that others have ones that differ from own own.
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What is Autism?
Profound psychiatric disorder in understanding and coping with social interaction and communication. Key features are: muteness, obsessive interests, mental retardation, resistance to change.
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Psychological harm may be caused as people with autism do not like looking at eyes and may not like changing their routine. Getting answers wrong may have also caused distress.
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