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An islet of social ability in Asperger Syndrome: Judging social attributes from faces

White, S; Hill, E; Winston, J; Frith, U; (2006) An islet of social ability in Asperger Syndrome: Judging social attributes from faces. BRAIN COGNITION , 61 (1) 69 - 77. 10.1016/j.bande.2005.12.007.

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Abstract

We asked adults with Asperger Syndrome to judge pictorial stimuli in terms of certain social stereotypes to evaluate to what extent they have access to this type of social knowledge. Sixteen adults with Asperger Syndrome and 24 controls, matched for age and intelligence, were presented with sets of faces, bodies and objects, which had to be rated on a 7-point scale in terms of trustworthiness, attractiveness, social status, and age, or, in the case of objects, price. Despite impaired performance on two important aspects of social cognition (second-order mentalizing and face recognition) the social judgements of the individuals with Asperger Syndrome were just as competent and consistent as those of their matched controls, with only one exception: there was a trend for them to be less able to judge the attractiveness of faces if they were the same sex. We explain this difference in terms of a weakness in mentalizing, specifically the ability to take a different point of view: While all other stereotypic attributions could be made from an egocentric point of view, judging the attractiveness of faces of one's own sex requires taking the perspective of someone of the opposite sex, a challenge for people with mentalizing problems. We conclude that individuals with Asperger Syndrome show preserved aspects of social knowledge, as revealed in the attribution of stereotypes to pictures of people. These findings suggest that there are dissociable subcomponents to social cognition and that not all of these are compromised in Asperger Syndrome. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: An islet of social ability in Asperger Syndrome: Judging social attributes from faces
DOI: 10.1016/j.bande.2005.12.007
Keywords: Asperger Syndrome, social cognition, mentalizing, theory of mind, face recognition, stereotypes, attractiveness, trustworthiness, status, HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM, NORMAL ADULTS, MIND, CHILDREN, ATTRACTIVENESS, INDIVIDUALS, RECOGNITION, IMPAIRMENT, EMOTIONS, DISORDER
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/4995
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