The automaticity of visual perspective-taking in autism spectrum conditions

Plant, Joshua Lee

September 2019

Thesis or dissertation

© 2019 Joshua Lee Plant. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The thesis investigated visual perspective-taking differences between adults on the autism spectrum and a neurotypical control group. In Experiment 1, participants were required to explicitly make a left/right judgement to the spatial location of a target object from two different perspectives, one’s own perspective (self) and the actor’s perspective (other). The two perspectives were interleaved in a block of trials. The reaction time findings revealed that the ASC were slower overall compared to the matched control group. In Experiment 2, participants explicitly judged the spatial location of the target object from only the other perspective. The reaction time findings showed that there was no difference between the ASC group and the matched control group when making a judgement from the other perspective. Experiment 3 was conducted online to measure the proportion of spontaneous self or other responses to three pictures, each with a corresponding question. The findings suggest that there was no difference between the proportion of self or other response for the ASC group and control group. There was no evidence found for impaired explicit and spontaneous perspective-taking in ASC. However, the findings demonstrate that when ASC participants have to devote more cognitive resources to shift between the two perspectives, consequently their reaction time suffers. This suggests that visual perspective level 2 appears to be intact, although poorer executive functioning in ASC could partially contribute to worse performance on tasks that are more cognitively demanding.

Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
Qualification level
Qualification name
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