Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 55–68 | Cite as

Understanding Teasing: Lessons From Children With Autism

  • Erin A. Heerey
  • Lisa M. Capps
  • Dacher Keltner
  • Ann M. Kring
Original Article


Teasing requires the ability to understand intention, nonliteral communication, pretense, and social context. Children with autism experience difficulty with such skills, and consequently, are expected to have difficulty with teasing. To better understand teasing concepts and behaviors, children with autism, their parents, and age and Verbal-IQ-matched comparison children and parents described concepts and experiences of teasing and engaged in a parent–child teasing interaction. The teasing of children with autism was less playful and provocative and focused less on social norms than that of comparison children. Similarly, parents of children with autism teased in less playful ways. Scores on a theory of mind task accounted for several of the observed differences. Discussion focused on the importance of understanding social context and playful behavior during teasing.

autism social interaction theory of mind teasing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin A. Heerey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Lisa M. Capps
    • 3
  • Dacher Keltner
    • 3
  • Ann M. Kring
    • 3
  1. 1.Maryland Psychiatric Research CenterUniversity of Maryland-Baltimore Medical SchoolBaltimore
  2. 2.Mental lllness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Maryland Health Care SystemBaltimore
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley
  4. 4.VAMHCS, MIRECC (Suite 6A)Baltimore

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