Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 10, pp 2430–2439 | Cite as

Using Other Minds as a Window Onto the World: Guessing What Happened from Clues in Behaviour

  • Dhanya Pillai
  • Elizabeth Sheppard
  • Danielle Ropar
  • Lauren Marsh
  • Amy Pearson
  • Peter Mitchell
Original Paper


It has been proposed that mentalising involves retrodicting as well as predicting behaviour, by inferring previous mental states of a target. This study investigated whether retrodiction is impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants watched videos of real people reacting to the researcher behaving in one of four possible ways. Their task was to decide which of these four “scenarios” each person responded to. Participants’ eye movements were recorded. Participants with ASD were poorer than comparison participants at identifying the scenario to which people in the videos were responding. There were no group differences in time spent looking at the eyes or mouth. The findings imply those with ASD are impaired in using mentalising skills for retrodiction.


Mentalising Retrodiction Social cognition Mental states Face processing Eye tracking 



We would like to thank all participants for committing time and effort to contribute to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dhanya Pillai
    • 1
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Sheppard
    • 1
  • Danielle Ropar
    • 2
  • Lauren Marsh
    • 2
  • Amy Pearson
    • 2
  • Peter Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NottinghamSemenyihMalaysia
  2. 2.University of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of NottinghamSemenyihMalaysia

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