Theory of mind abilities of children with schizophrenia, children with autism, and normally developing children

Tammy Pilowsky, Nurit Yirmiya*, Shoshana Arbelle, Tamar Mozes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations

Abstract

Theory of mind (ToM) abilities of children with schizophrenia, children with high functioning autism, and normally developing children, matched on mental age (MA), verbal MA, and performance MA, were compared. Both clinical groups were matched on chronological age as well, whereas the normally developing children were younger. A fact belief task, a value belief task, a deception task, and a false belief task were administered. The three groups did not differ on the fact belief task. Children with autism performed more poorly than normally developing children on value belief and false belief tasks, and more poorly than individuals with schizophrenia on the deception task. Children with schizophrenia performed more poorly than normally developing children only on the false belief task. Overall, the group with autism passed significantly fewer tasks compared to the normally developing group. ToM abilities correlated with verbal abilities for individuals with autism. The ToM abilities of children with paranoid schizophrenia and children with undifferentiated or disorganized schizophrenia did not differ. Findings strengthen the notion of a limited understanding of ToM in schizophrenia, and support the notion that ToM deficits, although more severe in autism, are not unique to autism. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 Apr 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by grants from the Israel Foundation Trustees (1992–1994) and the Israel Science Foundation founded by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. We are grateful to the individuals who participated in the study, and to Galit Gordon.

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Theory of mind (ToM)

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