• Can adults with autism spectrum disorders infer what happened to someone from their emotional response

      Cassidy, S.; Ropar, D.; Mitchell, Peter; Chapman, P. (2014-02)
      Can adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) infer what happened to someone from their emotional response? Millikan has argued that in everyday life, others' emotions are most commonly used to work out the antecedents of behavior, an ability termed retrodictive mindreading. As those with ASD show difficulties interpreting others' emotions, we predicted that these individuals would have difficulty with retrodictive mindreading. Sixteen adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome and 19 typically developing adults viewed 21 video clips of people reacting to one of three gifts (chocolate, monopoly money, or a homemade novelty) and then inferred what gift the recipient received and the emotion expressed by that person. Participants' eye movements were recorded while they viewed the videos. Results showed that participants with ASD were only less accurate when inferring who received a chocolate or homemade gift. This difficulty was not due to lack of understanding what emotions were appropriate in response to each gift, as both groups gave consistent gift and emotion inferences significantly above chance (genuine positive for chocolate and feigned positive for homemade). Those with ASD did not look significantly less to the eyes of faces in the videos, and looking to the eyes did not correlate with accuracy on the task. These results suggest that those with ASD are less accurate when retrodicting events involving recognition of genuine and feigned positive emotions, and challenge claims that lack of attention to the eyes causes emotion recognition difficulties in ASD.
    • Using other minds as a window onto the world guessing what happened from clues in behaviour

      Pillai, D.; Sheppard, E.; Ropar, D.; Marsh, L.; Pearson, A.; Mitchell, Peter (2014-10)
      It has been proposed that mentalising involves retrodicting as well as predicting behaviour, by inferring previous mental states of a target. This study investigated whether retrodiction is impaired in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Participants watched videos of real people reacting to the researcher behaving in one of four possible ways. Their task was to decide which of these four “scenarios” each person responded to. Participants’ eye movements were recorded. Participants with ASD were poorer than comparison participants at identifying the scenario to which people in the videos were responding. There were no group differences in time spent looking at the eyes or mouth. The findings imply those with ASD are impaired in using mentalising skills for retrodiction.