Level of functioning in Autism associated with self-processing ability: evidence from an ownership paradigm

Karri Gillespie-Smith, Holly P. Branigan, Carrie Ballantyne, David J. Turk, Sheila Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Background It has been argued that 'the self' is at the heart of social cognition, with an understanding of 'self' anchored within Theory of Mind - TOM (i.e. simulation theory). Self-concept is reported to be atypical in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is referred to as the absent-self hypothesis. Currently however, there are discrepancies in the ASD literature with some research reporting intact self-processing and others reporting impaired self-processing. The current study examined self-processing biases in a group of children with ASD by applying a more developmentally appropriate ownership paradigm. Method A 3x2 mixed design was applied with the independent variables being Group (3 levels: ASD, CA, VA) and the dependent variables being Memory (2 levels: Self, Other). The ASD group (N=18) were compared to a group of typical children matched on chronological age (N=18) and a group matched on verbal mental ability (N=18). Pairs of children (4-15 years) sorted 56 picture cards depicting a range of different toys into self- and other-owned sets. Results A mixed ANOVA showed a significant memory advantage for self-owned items regardless of participant group F (1,48) = 12.53, p<.001. This effect was significantly related to levels of socio-communicative ability within the ASD group r = -0.619, p<.05. Discussion Children with ASD do have an intact self-concept and can show the same self-processing biases as their typical counterparts. This self-processing however is linked to the level of socio-communicative ability across ASD which may help to elucidate the earlier reported discrepancies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2016
EventBPS Developmental Section Annual Conference - Hilton Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Sep 201616 Sep 2016
http://www.bps.org.uk/events/conferences/developmental-psychology-section-annual-conference

Conference

ConferenceBPS Developmental Section Annual Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBelfast
Period14/09/1616/09/16
Internet address

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Gillespie-Smith, K., Branigan, H. P., Ballantyne, C., Turk, D. J., & Cunningham, S. (2016). Level of functioning in Autism associated with self-processing ability: evidence from an ownership paradigm. Paper presented at BPS Developmental Section Annual Conference, Belfast, United Kingdom. http://www.bps.org.uk/events/conferences/developmental-psychology-section-annual-conference/programme