Many past studies looking at difficulties with theory of mind, or inferring others’ mental states, have focused on theory of mind ability, or how well people perform on tasks that explicitly assess theory of mind. However, few studies have looked at individual differences in people’s propensity to engage in theory of mind in social situations, or how much they spontaneously infer and think about other’s internal states. Differences in theory of mind ability vs propensity could help us understand nuanced difficulties in social communication and understanding that is often reported from individuals with autism.
What are the goals of the study?
The main aim of this study is to investigate theory of mind propensity in individuals with varying autistic experiences. The specific task I’ve chosen allows me to look at different subtypes of theory of mind (cognitive, affective, etc.) as well as specific autistic experiences (social, communication, attention, etc.) to gain a nuanced understanding of this process.
What will happen during the visit or online?
Participants will watch video clips of social interactions, answer questions about the video clips, and then fill out questionnaires about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, as well as demographic information.
How will this help families?
Hopefully this study will help individuals with autism and their families better understand social difficulties they may encounter.