Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 395–406

The Strange Stories Test: A Replication with High-Functioning Adults with Autism or Asperger Syndrome


  • Therese Jolliffe
    • Departments of Experimental Psychology and PsychiatryUniversity of Cambridge
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
    • Departments of Experimental Psychology and PsychiatryUniversity of Cambridge

DOI: 10.1023/A:1023082928366

Cite this article as:
Jolliffe, T. & Baron-Cohen, S. J Autism Dev Disord (1999) 29: 395. doi:10.1023/A:1023082928366


Two groups of individuals, one with high-functioning autism and the other with Asperger syndrome were tested using Happé's Strange Stories Test of a more advanced theory of mind (Happé, 1994). This assesses the ability to interpret a nonliteral statement. Relative to normal controls who were IQ and age-matched, individuals with autism or Asperger syndrome performed less well on the task, while performing normally on a non-mentalistic control task. Individuals with autism or Asperger syndrome could provide mental state answers, but had difficulty in providing contextually appropriate mental state answers. Rather, their answers tended to concentrate on the utterance in isolation. This replicates Happé's result. Although the majority of both clinical groups provided context-inappropriate interpretations, the autism group had the greater difficulty. Results are discussed in relation to both weak central coherence and theory of mind.

Strange stories testtheory of mindAsperger Syndromeautism
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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999