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How easy is it to read the minds of people with autism spectrum disorder

Sheppard, Elizabeth; Pillai, Dhanya; Tze-Lynn Wong, Genevieve; Mitchell, Peter; Ropar, Danielle


Dhanya Pillai

Genevieve Tze-Lynn Wong

Peter Mitchell


How well can neurotypical adults’ interpret mental states in people with ASD? ‘Targets’ (ASD and neurotypical) reactions to four events were video-recorded then shown to neurotypical participants whose task was to identify which event the target had experienced. In study 1 participants were more successful for neurotypical than ASD targets. In study 2, participants rated ASD targets equally expressive as neurotypical targets for three of the events, while in study 3 participants gave different verbal descriptions of the reactions of ASD and neurotypical targets. It thus seems people with ASD react differently but not less expressively to events. Because neurotypicals are ineffective in interpreting the behaviour of those with ASD, this could contribute to the social difficulties in ASD.


Sheppard, E., Pillai, D., Tze-Lynn Wong, G., Mitchell, P., & Ropar, D. (2016). How easy is it to read the minds of people with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(4), 1247–1254. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2662-8

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 24, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 24, 2015
Publication Date Apr 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 18, 2018
Print ISSN 0162-3257
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 4
Pages 1247–1254
Public URL
Publisher URL