Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

pp 1077-1078

Embedded Figures Test (EFT)

  • Francesca HappéAffiliated withMRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London Email author 


The Embedded Figures Test (EFT) was designed by Witkin in 1971 to assess his concept of “field dependence – independence” (e.g., Witkin & Goodenough, 1981). Good performance on the EFT was taken as a marker of field independence, the ability to disembed information from context or surrounding gestalt. The test requires the participant to spot a simple form within a more complex figure; the color and form of the latter create a gestalt within which the part is hidden (see Fig. 1). In the Children’s EFT, the complex figure is also meaningful (e.g., a pram, within which the triangle to be found is hidden in the hood). Group-administered and short versions are also available.
Embedded Figures Test (EFT), Fig. 1

The participant’s task is to find the simple shape within the complex and camoflaging gestalt

People with ASD are often extremely good at the EFT, as first demonstrated by Shah and Frith (1983). Fast and accurate performance on this test is thought to reflect the ...

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