Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 395–406

The Strange Stories Test: A Replication with High-Functioning Adults with Autism or Asperger Syndrome

  • Therese Jolliffe
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
Article

Abstract

Two groups of individuals, one with high-functioning autism and the other with Asperger syndrome were tested using Happé's Strange Stories Test of a more advanced theory of mind (Happé, 1994). This assesses the ability to interpret a nonliteral statement. Relative to normal controls who were IQ and age-matched, individuals with autism or Asperger syndrome performed less well on the task, while performing normally on a non-mentalistic control task. Individuals with autism or Asperger syndrome could provide mental state answers, but had difficulty in providing contextually appropriate mental state answers. Rather, their answers tended to concentrate on the utterance in isolation. This replicates Happé's result. Although the majority of both clinical groups provided context-inappropriate interpretations, the autism group had the greater difficulty. Results are discussed in relation to both weak central coherence and theory of mind.

Strange stories test theory of mind Asperger Syndrome autism 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1987). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (3rd ed., Rev.) Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.) Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  3. Baron-Cohen, S. (1989). The autistic child's theory of mind: A case of specific developmental delay. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30, 285–297.Google Scholar
  4. Baron-Cohen, S. (1995). Mindblindness: An essay on autism and theory of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford Books.Google Scholar
  5. Baron-Cohen, S. (1997). Hey! It was a joke! Understanding propositions and propositional attitudes by normally developing children, and children with autism. Israel Journal of Psychiatry, 34, 174–178.Google Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen, S., Jolliffe, T., Mortimore, C., & Robertson, M. (1997). Another advanced test of theory of mind: evidence from very high functioning adults with autism or Asperger syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 813–822.Google Scholar
  7. Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a ‘theory of mind’? Cognition, 21, 37–46.Google Scholar
  8. Frith, U. (1989). Autism: Explaining the enigma. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Happé, F. G. E. (1991). Theory of mind and communication in autism. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of London.Google Scholar
  10. Happé, F. G. E. (1993). Communicative competence and theory of mind in autism: A test of relevance theory. Cognition, 48, 101–119.Google Scholar
  11. Happé, F. G. E. (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.Google Scholar
  12. Happé, F. G. E. (1995). The role of age and verbal ability in the theory of mind task performance of subjects with autism. Child Development, 66, 843–855.Google Scholar
  13. Howlin, P. (1995). The Revised Howlin Screening Questionnaire, St. George's Hospital Medical School, University of London.Google Scholar
  14. Jolliffe, T., & Baron-Cohen, S. (1998a). Linguistic processing in high-functioning adults with autism or Asperger syndrome: Can global coherence be achieved? A further test of central coherence theory. Unpublished manuscript, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  15. Jolliffe, T., & Baron-Cohen, S. (in press). A test of central coherence theory: Linguistic processing in high-functioning adults with autism or Asperger syndrome: Is local coherence impaired? Cognition.Google Scholar
  16. Jolliffe, T. & Baron-Cohen, S. (1998b). A test of central coherence theory: Can adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome integrage objects in context? Unpublished manuscript. University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  17. Jolliffe, T. & Baron-Cohen, S. (1998c). A test of central coherence theory: Can adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome integrage fragments of an object? Unpublished manuscript. University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  18. Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.Google Scholar
  19. Klin, A., Volkmar, F. R., Sparrow, S. S., Cicchetti, D. V., & Rourke, B. P. (1995). Validity and neuropsychological characterisation of Asperger syndrome: Convergence with nonverbal learning disabilities syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 1127–1140.Google Scholar
  20. Miller, J. N. & Ozonoff, S. (1996). Did Asperger's cases have Asperger disorder? A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 247–251.Google Scholar
  21. Minshew, N. J., Goldstein, G., Muenz, L. R., & Payton, J. B. (1992). Neuropsychological functioning in non-mentally retarded autistic individuals. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 14, 749–761.Google Scholar
  22. Ozonoff, S., & Miller, J. N. (1996). An exploration of right-hemisphere contributions to the pragmatic impairments of autism. Brain and Language, 52, 411–434.Google Scholar
  23. Perner, J., Frith, U., Leslie, A. M. & Leekam, S. R. (1989). Exploration of the autistic child's theory of mind: Knowledge, belief and communication. Child Development, 60, 689–700.Google Scholar
  24. Rumsey, J. & Hamburger, S. (1998). Neuropsychological findings in high-functioning men with infantile autism, residual state. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 10, 201–221.Google Scholar
  25. Rumsey, J. M. & Hanahan, A. P. (1990). Getting it “right”: Performance of high-functioning autistic adults on a right-hemisphere battery. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 12, 81.Google Scholar
  26. Tantam, D. (1992). Characterizing the fundamental social handicap in autism. Acta Paedopsychiatrica, 55, 88–91.Google Scholar
  27. Terman, L. M. & Merrill, M. A. (1973). Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale Form L-M. (3rd edition). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  28. Wechsler, D. (1981). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. New York: Psychological Corp.Google Scholar
  29. Wing, L. (1981). Asperger syndrome: A clinical account. Psychological Medicine, 11, 115–129.Google Scholar
  30. World Health Organization. (1994). International classification of diseases and related health problems (10th ed.) Geneva.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Therese Jolliffe
    • 1
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Experimental Psychology and PsychiatryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations