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Title: Social cognition and the autistic spectrum : moral judgements, social contracts and behavioural coordination
Author: Husbands, Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 3741
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2008
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The present research aimed to investigate social exchange reasoning, moral reasoning and the behavioural coordination abilities of adults on the Autistic Spectrum; three areas of social cognition hypothesised to use `theory of mind'. The performance of participants both with and without a diagnosis of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was compared, using three measures. A Wason Card Selection Task was used to investigate the social contract reasoning abilities of the two groups. The groups' moral reasoning was compared using a newly developed Moral Judgement Task and a novel Moral Judgement Task. A novel set of behavioural coordination problems were used for the first time. A qualitative analysis of the behavioural coordination tasks was conducted in addition to the quantitative analysis to provide a more complex examination of the processes involved in solving these tasks. Results from a neu ropsychological battery showed that the participants were well matched except on one measure of executive function. There were no significant differences in the performance of the groups in terms of social exchange reasoning. On the moral reasoning tasks there were also no significant differences in the performances of the two groups. In terms of the new behavioural coordination problems, several differences were noted. The participants were asked to verbalise their thought processes when answering these problems and the results were analysed using a thematic analysis. In terms of processes involved in answering it appeared that theory of mind inferences, empathy and social knowledge were utilised. The groups differed in their ability to i) make and use theory of mind inferences; ii) show empathy and iii) make use of the entire available context. They also differed according to how they perceived the ease of the task and in the types of knowledge bases they relied on to inform their answers. It is hoped that results from these new tasks will open up new avenues for tests of social cognition in addition to a fuller understanding of impairments of social cognition in those with an ASD diagnosis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available