Enter the Wild: Autistic Traits and Their Relationship to Mentalizing and Social Interaction in Everyday Life
Theories derived from lab-based research emphasize the importance of mentalizing for social interaction and propose a link between mentalizing, autistic traits, and social behavior. We tested these assumptions in everyday life. Via smartphone-based experience sampling and logging of smartphone usage behavior we quantified mentalizing and social interaction in our participants’ natural environment. Mentalizing occurred less frequently than reasoning about actions and participants preferred to mentalize when alone. Autistic traits were negatively correlated with communication via smartphone. Yet, they were not associated with social media usage, a more indirect way of getting in touch with others. Our findings critically inform recent theories on social cognition, social behavior, and the role of autistic traits in these phenomena.
KeywordsAutism Experience sampling method Mentalizing Mobile sensing Theory of mind
Funded by LMUexcellent. For their invaluable help we thank Nadja Krenz, Nina Plenk, Stefanie Dangl, Sarah Tichi, Ramona Hofmann, Jana Wiechmann, Paul Mayer, Stephanie Günzinger, Phuong-Anh Vu, Daniel Buschek, Mike Fayer, April Moeller, Caroline Zygar, Irina and Christian Jarvers.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The ethics committee of the Department of Psychology and Education of LMU Munich approved the study.
The participants gave informed written consent to participate in the study.
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