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Social Motivation and Naïve Theories in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Social Motivation and Naïve Theories in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Burnside, Kimberly (2016) Social Motivation and Naïve Theories in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
2016 MA Thesis Kimberly Burnside Final.pdf - Accepted Version


Social motivation theory attempts to explain Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptomatology by suggesting that deficits in social motivation have downstream effects on children’s socio-cognitive abilities, such as theory of mind (ToM; Chevallier, Kohls, Troiani, Brodkin, & Schultz, 2012). This theory posits that children with ASD would show social motivation deficits, such as a lack of social preference, and would show deficits in ToM, such as failing an implicit false belief task. An objective to the present study was to examine the association between tasks measuring social motivation and ToM abilities in typically developing (TD) children and children with ASD. ToM is an example of naïve psychology, a category of domain-specific core understandings. Another objective of this study was to extend work on the dissociation across naïve theories by exploring children’s performance on naïve psychology, as well as naïve physics, and naïve biology. A biological motion and a static face preference task were administered on a split screen to measure social motivation. An implicit false belief task was administered to measure ToM (naïve psychology), a story sequencing task was used to measure naïve physics, and an understanding of “insides” was assessed to measure naïve biology. Tasks measuring social motivation were related to each other when assessed in TD children only. TD children but not children with ASD showed a social preference. Furthermore, children with ASD failed the implicit false belief task but not the naïve physics or naïve biology tasks. The present study replicates and extends previous findings, as well as strengthens the understanding of ASD symptomatology in the context of social motivation theory.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Burnside, Kimberly
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:18 August 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Poulin-Dubois, Diane
ID Code:981512
Deposited On:07 Nov 2016 19:59
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53
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