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Beyond expectations: autism, understanding embarrassment, and the relationship with theory of mind

Hillier, Ashleigh and Allinson, Lesley J. (2002) Beyond expectations: autism, understanding embarrassment, and the relationship with theory of mind. Autism, 6 (3). pp. 299-314. ISSN 1362-3613

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361302006003007

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

The ability of high-functioning individuals with autism to understand the complex emotion of embarrassment, and how this relates to an understanding of theory of mind, was investigated. Scenarios involving embarrassing and non-embarrassing situations were presented to a group with autism and three comparison groups. Participants were required to rate the level of embarrassment felt by the protagonist and to justify their choices. The results indicated that those with autism generally gave similar ratings of embarrassment as the comparison groups, but did show significant difficulty with non-embarrassing scenarios, and in providing appropriate justifications for embarrassment. In addition, a significant relationship between scores from false belief tasks and justification scores was found, supporting the proposed link between theory of mind skills and understanding embarrassment. Participants with autism did, however, show a higher than expected understanding of this complex emotion.

Additional Information:The ability of high-functioning individuals with autism to understand the complex emotion of embarrassment, and how this relates to an understanding of theory of mind, was investigated. Scenarios involving embarrassing and non-embarrassing situations were presented to a group with autism and three comparison groups. Participants were required to rate the level of embarrassment felt by the protagonist and to justify their choices. The results indicated that those with autism generally gave similar ratings of embarrassment as the comparison groups, but did show significant difficulty with non-embarrassing scenarios, and in providing appropriate justifications for embarrassment. In addition, a significant relationship between scores from false belief tasks and justification scores was found, supporting the proposed link between theory of mind skills and understanding embarrassment. Participants with autism did, however, show a higher than expected understanding of this complex emotion.
Keywords:Embarrassment, Emotion, High-functioning autism, Theory of mind
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:712
Deposited On:05 Oct 2007

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