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The Role of Theory of Mind on Social Information Processing in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Mediation Analysis

Abstract

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show significant impairments in social skills and theory of mind (ToM). The aim of this study was to evaluate ToM and social information processing abilities in 52 children with ASD compared to 55 typically developing (TD) children. A mediation analysis evaluated whether social information processing abilities can be mediated by ToM competences. In our results, children with autism showed a deficit in social skills and ToM components. The innovative results of our study applying mediation analysis demonstrate that ToM plays a key role in the development of social abilities, and the lack of ToM competences in children with autism impairs their competent social behavior.

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Author contribution

MoM and MV designed research; MCP, MeM, and SP collected data; FM analyzed the data; MoM, MCP, SP, and MeM wrote paper.

Author information

Correspondence to Monica Mazza.

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Mazza, M., Mariano, M., Peretti, S. et al. The Role of Theory of Mind on Social Information Processing in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Mediation Analysis. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 1369–1379 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3069-5

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • Mediation analysis
  • Theory of mind (ToM)
  • Social cognition
  • Social information processing