Teaching theory of mind by highlighting intention and illustrating thoughts: a comparison of their effectiveness with three-year-olds and autistic subjects

Evelyn Mary McGregor, Andrew Whiten, P Blackburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A number of interventions have taught autistic children to pass tasks of false-belief attribution, but the children show little evidence of generalization. The aim of the present study was to overcome four possible limitations in the design of such interventions, and compare two participant groups, 3-year-olds and autistic individuals with comparable verbal mental age on their ability to learn a false-belief task and generalize to other casks. The two groups were shown false-belief scenarios which were modified in two ways-by highlighting intention and by illustrating thoughts using picture-in-the-head techniques. The pre- and post-tests administered comprised a range of traditional theory-of-mind tasks. Results showed that both the 3-year-old children and che autistic individuals were able to pass a standard task of false-belief attribution following teaching. The 3-year-olds also showed substantial evidence of generalization to other false-belief tasks. However, for the autistic participants, although there was some overall improvement, generalization was limited to the test of their own false belief.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-300
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Volume16
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1998

Keywords

  • FALSE-BELIEF
  • CHILDREN
  • DISCRIMINATION
  • PRESCHOOLERS
  • DECEPTION
  • GRASP
  • TASK

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