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We explore the relationship between the ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) and ‘central coherence’ difficulties of autism. We introduce covariation between hierarchically-embedded categories and social information—at the local level, the global level, or at both levels simultaneously—within a category confusion task. We then ask participants to infer the mental state of novel category members, and measure participants’ autism-spectrum quotient (AQ). Results reveal a positive relationship between AQ and the degree of local/global social categorization, which in turn predicts the pattern of mental state inferences. These results provide preliminary evidence for a causal relationship between central coherence and ToM abilities. Implications with regard to ToM processes, social categorization, intervention, and the development of a unified account of autism are discussed.
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- Is Social Categorization the Missing Link Between Weak Central Coherence and Mental State Inference Abilities in Autism? Preliminary Evidence from a General Population Sample
Daniel P. Skorich
Adrienne R. May
Louisa A. Talipski
Marnie H. Hall
Anita J. Dolstra
Tahlia B. Gash
Beth H. Gunningham
- Springer US