Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 373–382 | Cite as

Faux Pas Detection and Intentional Action in Asperger Syndrome. A Replication on a French Sample

  • Tiziana Zalla
  • Anca-Maria Sav
  • Astrid Stopin
  • Sabrina Ahade
  • Marion Leboyer
Original Paper

Abstract

In the present study, we investigated mindreading abilities in a group of adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS) by using the faux pas task, an advanced test of theory of mind (Baron-Cohen et al. (1999). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 407–418). The faux pas is a particular case of a non-intentional action reflecting an involuntary socially inappropriate behavior. Here, individuals with AS over-detected faux pas stories, failed to provide correct justifications of the speaker’s behavior and were unaware of the mistaken belief and of the resulting emotional impact, whereas they appeared to be responsive to social rule violations. We hypothesized that because of an impaired theory-of-mind, individuals with AS may develop compensatory cognitive strategies based on overlearned abstract knowledge about normative rules.

Keywords

Mindreading Empathy Intentional action Moral judgment Theory of mind 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Dick Carter, Emmanuel Dupoux, Pierre Jacob, Joshua Knobe and two anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments on an earlier draft of the article. The authors are also grateful the Autism Research Centre for providing test materials. This work was made possible by the Fondation Orange and the Fondation FondaMental.

References

  1. Abell, F., Happe, F., & Frith, U. (2000). Do triangles play tricks? Attribution of mental states to animated shapes in normal and abnormal development. Cognitive Development, 15, 1–16. doi:10.1016/S0885-2014(00)00014-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, F., & Steadman, A. (2004). Intentional action in ordinary language: Core concept or pragmatic understanding? Analysis, 64, 173–181. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8284.2004.00480.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Psychiatry Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). DSM-IV-TR (Text Revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatry Association.Google Scholar
  4. Baron-Cohen, S. (1989). The autistic child’s theory of mind: A case of specific developmental delay. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 30, 285–297. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1989.tb00241.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baron-Cohen, S. (1995). Mindblindness. An essay on autism and theory of mind. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A., & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a theory of mind? Cognition, 21, 37–46. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(85)90022-8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baron-Cohen, S., O’Riordan, M., Stone, V., Jones, R., & Plaisted, K. (1999). Recognition of faux pas by normally developing children and children with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 407–418. doi:10.1023/A:1023035012436.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bauminger, N., & Kasari, C. (1999). Brief report: Theory of mind in high-functioning children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 81–86. doi:10.1023/A:1025974701090.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bauminger, N., & Kasari, C. (2000). Loneliness and friendship in high-functioning children with autism. Child Development, 71, 447–456. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bentall, R., & Kinderman, P. (1998). Psychological processes and delusional beliefs: Implications for the treatment of paranoid states. In S. Lewis, N. Tarrier & T. Wykes (Eds.), Outcome and innovation in psychological treatment of schizophrenia. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Blackshaw, A. J., Hare, D. J., & Hatton, C. (2001). Theory of mind, causal attribution and paranoia in Asperger Syndrome. Autism, 5, 147–163. doi:10.1177/1362361301005002005.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bowler, D. M. (1992). “Theory of mind” in Asperger’s Syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 33, 877–893. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1992.tb01962.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Colby, A., & Kohlberg, L. (1987). The measurement of moral judgment (Vol. 1–2). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Frith, C. (1996). Brain mechanisms for having a “theory of mind”. Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 10, 9–15. doi:10.1177/026988119601000103.Google Scholar
  15. Frith, C. D., & Corcoran, R. (1996). Exploring ‘theory of mind’ in people with schizophrenia. Psychological Medicine, 26, 521–530.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Frith, U., Happé, F., & Siddons, F. (1994). Autism and theory of mind in everyday life. Social Development, 2, 108–124. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.1994.tb00031.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gillberg, C., Gillberg, C., Råstam, M., & Wentz, E. (2001). The Asperger Syndrome (and high-functioning autism) diagnostic interview (ASDI): A preliminary study of a new structured clinical interview. Autism, 5(1), 57–66. doi:10.1177/1362361301005001006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grant, C. M., Boucher, J., Riggs, K. J., & Grayson, A. (2005). Moral understanding in children with autism. Autism, 9, 317–331. doi:10.1177/1362361305055418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gregory, C., Stone, V., Erzinclioglu, S., Martin, L., Baron-Cohen, S., & Hodges, J. R. (2002). Theory of mind in patients with frontal variant frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: Theoretical and practical implications. Brain, 125, 752–764. doi:10.1093/brain/awf079.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hansson, S. L., Svanström Röjvall, A., Rastam, M., Gillberg, C., Gillberg, C., & Anckarsäter, H. (2005). Psychiatric telephone interview with parents for screening of childhood autism-tics, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other comorbidities (A-TAC): Preliminary reliability and validity. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 187, 262–267. doi:10.1192/bjp.187.3.262.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Happè, F. (1994). An advanced test of theory of mind: Understanding of story characters’ thoughts and feelings by able autistic, mentally handicapped and normal children and adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 129–154. doi:10.1007/BF02172093.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Happé, F., Ehlers, S., Fletcher, P., Frith, U., Johansson, M., Gillberg, C., et al. (1996). “ Theory of mind “ in the brain. Evidence from a PET scan study of Asperger Syndrome. Neuroreport, 8, 197–201.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jolliffe, T., & Baron-Cohen, S. (1999). The strange stories test: A replication with high-functioning adults with autism or Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 395–406. doi:10.1023/A:1023082928366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Karniol, R. (1978). Children’s use of intention cues in evaluating behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 85, 76–85. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.85.1.76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Knobe, J. (2003). Intentional action in folk psychology: An experimental investigation. Philosophical Psychology, 16, 309–324. doi:10.1080/09515080307771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Knobe, J. (2004). Intention, intentional action and moral considerations. Analysis, 64, 181–187. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8284.2004.00481.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Knobe, J. (2005). Theory of mind and moral cognition: Exploring the connections. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 357–359. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.06.011.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Knobe, J., & Mendlow, G. (2004). The good, the bad and the blameworthy: Understanding the role of evaluative reasoning in folk psychology. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 24, 252–258.Google Scholar
  29. Leslie, A. M. (1987). Pretense and representation: The origins of “theory of mind”. Psychological Review, 94, 412–426. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.94.4.412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Leslie, A. M. (1991). The theory of mind impairment in autism: Evidence for a modular mechanism of development? In A. Whiten (Ed.), The emergence of mindreading (pp. 63–78). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  31. Leslie, A. M., Knobe, J., & Cohen, A. (2006). Acting intentionally and the side-effect effect: ‘Theory of mind’ and moral judgment. Psychological Science, 17, 421–427. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01722.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leslie, A. M., & Roth, D. (1993). What eutism teach us about metarepresentation. In S. Baron-cohen, H. Tager-Flusberg & D. Cohen (Eds.), Understanding other minds: Perspectives from autism (pp. 83–111). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lord, C., Rutter, M., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). Autism diagnostic interview-revised: A recise version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 659–685. doi:10.1007/BF02172145.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Malle, B. F. (1999). How people explain behavior: A new theoretical framework. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 23–48. doi:10.1207/s15327957pspr0301_2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Malle, B. F. (2007). F.EX: A coding scheme for folk explanations of behavior. Technical reports of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, Eugene, Oregon. Available at http://hebb.uoregon.edu/02-04tech.pdf.
  36. Malle, B. F., Knobe, J., & Nelson, S. (2007). Actor-observer asymmetries in explanations of behavior: New answers to an old question. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 491–514. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.93.4.491.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ozonoff, S., & McEvoy, R. E. (1994). A longitudinal study of executive function and theory of mind development in autism. Development and Psychopathology, 6, 415–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ozonoff, S., Rogers, S. J., & Pennington, B. F. (1991). Asperger’s Syndrome: Evidence of an empirical distinction from high-functioning autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 32, 1107–1122. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1991.tb00352.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Tomer, R., Yaniv, S., & Aharon-Peretz, J. (2002). Empathy deficits in Asperger Syndrome: A cognitive profile. Neurocase, 8, 245–252.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Stone, V. E., Baron-Cohen, S., & Knight, R. T. (1998). Frontal lobe contributions to theory of mind. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 10, 640–656. doi:10.1162/089892998562942.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Travis, L., Sigman, M., & Ruskin, E. (2001). Links between social understanding and social behavior in verbally able children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31, 119–130. doi:10.1023/A:1010705912731.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wechsler, D. (1999). Echelle clinique de mémoire de Wechsler-révisé: Manuel. Paris: Centre de Psychologie Appliquée.Google Scholar
  43. Wing, L. (1997). The autistic spectrum. Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  44. World Health Organisation. (2004). International statistical classification and related health problems: Tenth revision, Geneva.Google Scholar
  45. Young, L., Cushman, F., Adolphs, R., Tranel, D., & Hauser, M. (2006). Does emotion mediate the effect of an action’s moral status on its intentional status? Neuropsychological evidence. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 6, 291–304. doi:10.1163/156853706776931312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Young, L., Cushman, F., Hauser, M., & Saxe, R. (2007). The neural basis of the interaction between theory of mind and moral judgment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 104, 8235–8240. doi:10.1073/pnas.0701408104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yuill, N., & Perner, J. (1988). Intentionality and knowledge in childrens’ judgments of actors responsibility and recipients emotional reaction. Developmental Psychology, 24, 358–365. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.24.3.358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiziana Zalla
    • 1
  • Anca-Maria Sav
    • 2
  • Astrid Stopin
    • 3
  • Sabrina Ahade
    • 3
  • Marion Leboyer
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut Jean Nicod, CNRSEcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire EA 2027, Equipe de recherche en psychologie cliniqueUniversité Paris VIIIParisFrance
  3. 3.Hôpital Chenevier-Mondor & INSERM, U841CreteilFrance

Personalised recommendations