Social Information Processing & Mental Health in Autism

What's the study about?

The Autism, Stress and Anxiety Program (ASAP Lab) at UBC is conducting a study that aims to understand how the ability to make sense of others’ thoughts, feelings and intentions (i.e., perspective-taking) relates to mental health and social well-being among autistic young adults. We often hear from autistic youth and young adults in our clinical and research work that, for some, their experience of “missing the social script” and struggling to understand others’ social cues (particularly neurotypical peers, friends and family) has led them to feel much more distressed, confused, and anxious in social situations. Through this study, we want to see whether autistic young adults with specific perspective-taking styles (e.g., tending to “overinterpret” social situations, or interpret them more negatively) are more likely to experience social distress and may be in need of greater mental health supports.

Who can participate?

  • Fluent in English
  • Ages 18-30 years
  • Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (diagnosed by or before age 18)
  • Able to attend on-site session at UBC Vancouver Campus OR attend an online session over Zoom

Please complete the online screener survey to see if you’re eligible to participate.


What will participants be doing?

This is a 2-part study that involves completing online questionnaires (Part 1, 30-45 minutes) and an in-person or Zoom study visit in which participants complete tasks measuring their thinking skills and how they interpret different social situations (Part 2, 2-3 hours).

Participants receive $15 per hour (Canadian dollar) of participation via Amazon gift card.


Why is this important?

We hope that this study will help us better understand how mental health challenges, particularly social anxiety, develop and persist in autistic adults, and how to best support them in coping with these challenges and forming positive social connections. For a substantial minority of autistic individuals (~30%), evidence-based therapies are not effective, possibly because therapy is not “one size fits all” and more tailored approaches are needed. Thus, investigating how perspective-taking skills impact mental health in autistic young adults is an important step towards ensuring more effective interventions.

More Research studies from this topic: Core ASD Features