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Knowing me, knowing you: Spontaneous use of mentalistic language for self and other in autism

Zinck, A; Frith, U; Schönknecht, P; White, S; (2020) Knowing me, knowing you: Spontaneous use of mentalistic language for self and other in autism. Autism 10.1177/1362361320951017. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Recent studies on mentalizing have shown that autistic individuals who pass explicit mentalizing tasks may still have difficulties with implicit mentalizing tasks. This study explores implicit mentalizing by examining spontaneous speech that is likely to contain mentalistic expressions. The spontaneous production of meta-statements provides a clear measure for implicit mentalizing that is unlikely to be learned through experience. We examined the self- and other-descriptions of highly verbally able autistic and non-autistic adults in terms of their spontaneous use of mentalistic language and meta-representational utterances through quantitative and qualitative analysis. We devised a hierarchical coding system that allowed us to study the types of statements produced in comparable conditions for the self and for a familiar other. The descriptions of autistic participants revealed less mentalistic content relating to psychological traits and meta-statements. References to physical traits were similar between groups. Within each group, participants produced a similar pattern of types of mental utterance across ‘self’ and ‘other’ conditions. This suggests that autistic individuals show a unique pattern of mental-state-representation for both self and other. Meta-statements add a degree of complexity to self- and other-descriptions and to the understanding of mental states; their reduction in autism provides evidence for implicit mentalizing difficulties.

Type: Article
Title: Knowing me, knowing you: Spontaneous use of mentalistic language for self and other in autism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1362361320951017
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361320951017
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, explicit mentalizing, implicit mentalizing, language, meta-cognition, theory of own and other minds
UCL classification: UCL
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: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10111686
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