Advertisement

Theory of Mind in Autism

  • Francesca Happé
  • Uta Frith
Part of the Current Issues in Autism book series (CIAM)

Abstract

Human beings are essentially social creatures. In what does this social ability lie? In the ability to love, to feel sympathy, to make friendships? Or, is it in the ability to cheat, deceive, and outsmart opponents? In fact it is these unpleasant abilities that reveal the extent of human social understanding. These abilities demonstrate our special human ability to think about thoughts, and hence to “out-think” one another. It is this ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others that is captured by the phrase “theory of mind.” Of course, a theory of mind also has positive effects; it allows us to empathize, to communicate, and to imagine others’ hopes and dreams.

Keywords

Autistic Child Asperger Syndrome Child Psychology Pretend Play False Belief Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Astington, J. W., & Gopnik, A. (1991). Theoretical explanations of children’s understanding of the mind. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 7–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Astington, J. W., Harris, P. L., & Olson, D. R. (Eds.) (1988). Developing Theories of Mind. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Attwood, A. H., Frith, U., & Hermelin, B. (1988). The understanding and use of interpersonal gestures by autistic and Down’s syndrome children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 18, 241–257.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baron-Cohen, S. (1989a). The autistic child’s theory of mind: A case of specific developmental delay. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30, 285–297.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baron-Cohen, S. (1989b). Are autistic children behaviourists? An examination of their mental-physical and appearance-reality distinctions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19, 579–600.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen, S. (1989c). Perceptual role taking and protodeclarative pointing in autism. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 7, 113–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baron-Cohen, S. (1991a). Do people with autism understand what causes emotion?. Child Development, 62, 385–395.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baron-Cohen, S. (1991b) Precursors to a theory of mind: Understanding attention in others. In A. Whiten (Ed.), Natural Theories of Mind (pp. 233–251). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind”?. Cognition, 21, 37–46.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1986). Mechanical, behavioural and intentional understanding of picture stories in autistic children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 4, 113–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Baron-Cohen, S., Tager-Flusberg, H., & Cohen, D. J. (Eds.), (1993). Understanding other minds: Perspectives from autism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Beeghly, M., Weiss-Perry, B., & Cichetti, D. (1989). Affective and structural analysis of symbolic play in children with Down’s syndrome. International Journal of Behavioural Development, 12, 257–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bettelheim, B. (1955). Truants from life: The rehabilitation of emotionally disturbed children. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bowler, D. M. (1992). Theory of mind in Asperger’s syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 877–893.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Charman, T., & Baron-Cohen, S. (1992). Understanding drawings and beliefs: A further test of the metarepresentation theory of autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 1105–1112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dawson, G., & Fernald, M. (1987). Perspective-taking ability and its relationship to the social behavior of autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 17, 487–498.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DeGelder, B. (1987). On not having a theory of mind. Cognition, 27, 285–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dennett, D. C. (1978). Beliefs about beliefs. The Behaviorial and Brain Sciences, 4, 568–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eisenmajer, R., & Prior, M. (1991). Cognitive linguistic correlates of “theory of mind” ability in autistic children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 351–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fein, G. G. (1981). Pretend play: An integrative review. Cognitive Development, 52, 1095–1118.Google Scholar
  21. Fraiberg, S. (1977). Insights from the blind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  22. Frith, U. (1989a). Autism: Explaining the enigma. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  23. Frith, U. (1989b). A new look at language and communication in autism. British Journal of Disorders of Communication, 24, 123–150.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Frith, U. (1991). Cognitive development and cognitive deficit. The Psychologist, 5, 13–19.Google Scholar
  25. Frith, U., Morton, J., & Leslie, A. M. (1991). The cognitive basis of a biological disorder: Autism. Trends in Neuroscience, 14, 433–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gopnik, A., & Astington, J. (1988). Children’s understanding of representational change and its relation to the understanding of false belief and the appearance/reality distinction. Child Development, 59, 26–37.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Happé, F. G. E. (1991). The autobiographical writings of three Asperger syndrome adults: Problems of interpretation and implications for theory. In U. Frith (Ed.), Autism and Asperger syndrome (pp. 207–242). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Happé, F. (1994). Autism: An introduction to psychological theory. London: UCL Press.Google Scholar
  29. Harris, P. L., & Muncer, A. (1988). Autistic children’s understanding of beliefs and desires. Paper presented at the meeting of the Developmental section of the British Psychological Society, Coleg Harlech, Wales.Google Scholar
  30. Hobson, R. P. (1986a). The autistic child’s appraisal of expressions of emotion. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 321–342.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hobson, R. P. (1986b). The autistic child’s appraisal of expressions of emotion: A further study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 671–680.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hobson, R. P. (1989). Beyond cognition: A theory of autism. In G. Dawson (Ed.), Autism: Nature, diagnosis and treatment (pp. 22–48). New York: Guildford.Google Scholar
  33. Hobson, R. P. (1990). On acquiring knowledge about people, and the capacity to pretend: A response to Leslie. Psychological Review, 97, 114–121.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hughes, C. H., & Russell, J. (1993). Autistic children’s difficulty with mental disengagement from an object: Its implications for theories of autism. Developmental Psychology, 29, 498–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Johnson, M. H., Siddons, F., Frith, U., & Morton, J. (1992). Can autism be predicted on the basis of infant screening tests?. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 34, 316–320.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Leekam, S., & Perner, J. (1991). Does the autistic child have a metarepresentational deficit?. Cognition, 40, 203–218.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Leslie, A. M. (1987). Pretence and representation: The origins of “theory of mind.”. Psychological Review, 94, 412–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leslie, A. M. (1988). Some implications of pretence for mechanisms underlying the child’s theory of mind. In J. W. Astington, P. L. Harris, & D. R. Olson (Eds.), Developing Theories of Mind (pp. 19–46). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1988). Autistic children’s understanding of seeing, knowing, and believing. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 6, 315–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1990). Prospects for a cognitive neuropsychology of autism: Hobson’s choice. Psychological Review, 97, 122–131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Leslie, A. M., & Happé, F. (1989). Autism and ostensive communication: The relevance of metarepresentation. Development and Psychopathology, 1, 205–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Leslie, A. M., & Keeble, S. (1987). Do 6-month-old infants perceive causality?. Cognition, 25, 265–288.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Leslie, A. M., & Thaiss, L. (1992). Domain specificity in conceptual development: Evidence from autism. Cognition, 43, 225–251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Moore, C., Pure, K., & Furrow, D. (1990). Children’s understanding of the modal expression of speaker certainty and uncertainty and its relation to the development of a representational theory of mind. Child Development, 61, 722–730.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Moses, L. J., & Flavell, J. H. (1990). Inferring false beliefs from actions and reactions. Child Development, 61, 929–945.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mundy, P., & Sigman, M. (1989). The theoretical implications of joint attention deficits in autism. Development and Psychopathology, 1, 173–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nunez, M., & Riviere, A. (1990, August). Theory of mind and other cognitive developments. Poster presented at IV European Conference of Developmental Psychology, Stirling, Scotland.Google Scholar
  48. Oswald, D. P., & Ollendick, T. (1989). Role taking and social competence in autism and mental retardation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19, 119–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ozonoff, S., Pennington, B. F., & Rogers, S. J. (1991). Executive function deficits in high-functioning autistic children: Relationship to theory of mind. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 1081–1106.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 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, 32, 1107–1122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Perner, J. (1991). Understanding the representational mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  52. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Perner, J., Leekam, S. R., & Wimmer, H. (1987). Three-year-olds’ difficulty with false belief: The case for a conceptual deficit. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 5, 125–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Perner, J., & Wimmer, H. (1985). “John thinks that Mary thinks that... “ Attribution of second-order beliefs by 5-10 year old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 39, 437–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Premack, D., & Woodruff, G. (1978). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?. The Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 4, 515–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Prior, M. R., Dahlstrom, B., & Squires, T. L. (1990). Autistic children’s knowledge of thinking and feeling states in other people. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 31, 587–601.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pylyshyn, Z. W. (1978). When is attribution of beliefs justified?. The Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1, 592–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Reed, T., & Peterson, C. (1990). A comparison study of autistic subjects’ performance at two levels of visual and cognitive perspective taking. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 555–568.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Riviere, A., & Castellanos, J. L. (1988). Autismo y teoria de la mente [Autism and theory of mind]. Paper presented at IV Congreso Nacional de AETAPI, Cadiz, Spain.Google Scholar
  60. Rogers, S. J., & Pulchalski, C. B. (1984). Development of symbolic play in visually impaired infants. Papers in Early Childhood Special Education, 3, 57–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Roth, D., & Leslie, A. M. (1991). The recognition of attitude conveyed by utterance: A study of pre-school and autistic children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 315–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Russell, J., Mauthner, N., Sharpe, S., & Tidswell,-T. (1991). The “ windows” task as a measure of strategic deception in preschoolers and autistic subjects. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 331–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shapiro, T. D., Sherman, M., Calamari, G., & Koch, D. (1987). Attachment in autism and other developmental disorders. Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 480–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sigman, M., & Ungerer, J. A. (1984). Attachment behaviours in autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 14, 231–244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sodian, B., & Frith, U. (1992). Deception and sabotage in autistic, retarded, and normal children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 591–605.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1986). Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  67. Tan, J., & Harris, P. (1991). Autistic children understand seeing and wanting. Development and Psychopathology, 3, 163–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tantam, D. J. H. (1991). Asperger’s syndrome in adulthood. In U. Frith (Ed.), Autism and Asperger syndrome (pp. 147–183). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wellman, M. M. (1990). The child’s theory of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  70. Whiten, A. (Ed.). (1991). Natural theories of mind: Evolution, development, and simulation of every day mind reading. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  71. Wimmer, H., & Hartl, M. (1991). Against the Cartesian view on mind: Young children’s difficulty with own false beliefs. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 125–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wimmer, H., & Perner, J. (1983). Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and the constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children’s understanding of deception. Cognition, 13, 103–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wing, L., & Gould, J. (1979). Severe impairments of social interaction and associated abnormalities in children: Epidemiology and classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9, 11–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wing, L., Gould, J., Yeates, S. R., & Brierley, L. M. (1977). Symbolic play in severely mentally retarded and autistic children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 18, 167–178.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wulff, S. B. (1985). The symbolic and object play of children with autism: A review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 15, 139–148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zaitchik, D. (1990). When representations conflict with reality: The preschoolers’ problem with false belief and “false” photographs. Cognition, 35, 41–68.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Happé
    • 1
  • Uta Frith
    • 1
  1. 1.Cognitive Development UnitMedical Research CouncilLondonUK

Personalised recommendations