Developing A Novel Measure of Theory of Mind: The Friendship Game

Prof Doc Thesis

Smithers, M. 2020. Developing A Novel Measure of Theory of Mind: The Friendship Game. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsSmithers, M.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Advanced tests of Theory of Mind (ToM) have offered support for the ToM model of ASD with adults with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HF ASD). Other support for the ToM model of ASD has arisen from research incorporating video and audio elements to improve the real-life applicability of ToM tests for adults with HF ASD. Building upon this research, the current study develops a new measure of Theory of Mind (ToM) that adopts a game-like design that is both challenging and engaging for adults with HF ASD: The Friendship Game (TFG).
The thesis documents the initial development of TFG, followed by an exploratory quantitative and qualitative validation of TFG. Eight participants with HF ASD were recruited to the study. Their individual performances on TFG were compared to their performances on Cognitive and Social Cognitive Assessments and self-report measures, relative to UK norms. The participants’ verbal responses in TFG were explored to assess perceived evidence of ToM application and accuracy. The participants also provided feedback on the testing experience to further assess TFG’s validity and relevance to the adult HF ASD population.
The results provided initial support for TFG’s validation as a new measure of ToM for adults with HF ASD. Exploration of the participants’ verbal responses suggest that there was no evidence of floor or ceiling effects in TFG. Participant feedback also indicated that the TFG is both an engaging and challenging test of ToM. Whilst they reflected that social interaction is more complex in everyday life, TFG helped to identify and prompt a discussion around these difficulties. Ideas for how TFG could be developed into an intervention to support adults with HF ASD were also discussed.
The findings of the study were discussed in relation to previous research and ideas for future directions. The study’s methodological and theoretical limitations were also explored. For example, the impact of the small participant size on the conclusions that can be draw from of the study. Also, the contextual challenges involved in the validation of a new measure of ToM.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online01 Oct 2020
Publication process dates
SubmittedJun 2020
Deposited01 Oct 2020
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