The relation between theory of mind and rule use: evidence from persons with autism-spectrum disorders
Article first published online: 24 MAY 2002
Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Infant and Child Development
Special Issue: Executive Functions and Development: Studies of Typical and Atypical Children
Volume 11, Issue 2, pages 171–195, June 2002
How to Cite
David Zelazo, P., Jacques, S., Burack, J. A. and Frye, D. (2002), The relation between theory of mind and rule use: evidence from persons with autism-spectrum disorders. Inf. Child Develop., 11: 171–195. doi: 10.1002/icd.304
- Issue published online: 24 MAY 2002
- Article first published online: 24 MAY 2002
- executive function;
- rule use;
- theory of mind;
Cognitive complexity and control (CCC) theory, which is a theory of executive function and its development, provides a metric for comparing task demands across domains. This metric allowed us to examine the relation between theory of mind (ToM) and one aspect of executive function, rule use, in 22 individuals with autism-spectrum disorders, including 12 severely impaired (VIQ⩽40; mean VMA=4.07 years; mean CA=17.47) and 10 mildly impaired (VIQ>40; mean VMA=6.15 years; mean CA=10.30) individuals. For severely impaired individuals, ToM performance was unrelated to rule use, r=−0.40, p>0.05). However, for mildly impaired individuals, the correlation between ToM and rule use was high, r=0.82, p<0.01). This latter finding challenges the hypothesis of a domain-specific, ToM module, and suggests instead that poor performance on ToM tasks may be attributed to a more general difficulty using higher order rules to integrate 2 incompatible perspectives into a single system of inferences. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.