An investigation into social information processing in young people with Asperger syndrome

Autism. 2011 Sep;15(5):601-24. doi: 10.1177/1362361310387803. Epub 2011 Jun 22.


Deficits in social functioning are a core feature of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), being linked to various cognitive and developmental factors, but there has been little attempt to draw on normative models of social cognition to understand social behaviour in ASD. The current study explored the utility of Crick and Dodge's (1994) information processing model to studying social cognition in ASD, and examined associations between social information processing patterns, theory of mind skills and social functioning. A matched-group design compared young people with Asperger syndrome with typically developing peers, using a social information processing interview previously designed for this purpose. The Asperger syndrome group showed significantly different patterns of information processing at the intent attribution, response generation and response evaluation stages of the information processing model. Theory of mind skills were found to be significantly associated with parental ratings of peer problems in the Asperger syndrome group but not with parental ratings of pro-social behaviour, with only limited evidence of an association between social information processing and measures of theory of mind and social functioning. Overall, the study supports the use of normative social information processing approaches to understanding social functioning in ASD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Peer Group
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Perception*