How Easy is it to Read the Minds of People with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Peter Mitchell, University of Nottingham. How well can neurotypical adults’ interpret mental states in people with ASD? ‘Targets’ (ASD and neurotypical) reactions to four events were video-recorded then shown to neurotypical participants whose task was to identify which event the target had experienced. In study 1 participants were more successful for neurotypical than ASD targets. In study 2, participants rated ASD targets equally expressive as neurotypical targets for three of the events, while in study 3 participants gave different verbal descriptions of the reactions of ASD and neurotypical targets. It thus seems people with ASD react differently but not less expressively to events. Because neurotypicals are ineffective in interpreting the behaviour of those with ASD, this could contribute to the social difficulties in ASD.

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