A new test of advanced theory of mind: The "Strange Stories Film Task" captures social processing differences in adults with autism spectrum disorders

Kim Murray, Kate Johnston, Helen Cunane, Charlotte Kerr, Debbie Spain, Nicola Gillan, Neil Hammond, Declan Murphy, Francesca Happé*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)
1007 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Real-life social processing abilities of adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can be hard to capture in lab-based experimental tasks. A novel measure of social cognition, the "Strange Stories Film task' (SSFt), was designed to overcome limitations of available measures in the field. Brief films were made based on the scenarios from the Strange Stories task (Happé) and designed to capture the subtle social-cognitive difficulties observed in ASD adults. Twenty neurotypical adults were recruited to pilot the new measure. A final test set was produced and administered to a group of 20 adults with ASD and 20 matched controls, alongside established social cognition tasks and questionnaire measures of empathy, alexithymia and ASD traits. The SSFt was more effective than existing measures at differentiating the ASD group from the control group. In the ASD group, the SSFt was associated with the Strange Stories task. The SSFt is a potentially useful tool to identify social cognitive dis/abilities in ASD, with preliminary evidence of adequate convergent validity. Future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism research
Early online date11 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Adults
  • Advanced theory of mind
  • Alexithymia
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Empathy
  • Mentalising
  • Social cognition

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