Event Date and Time

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Defense

Speaker: Valerie Hsieh

Advisors: Yi Ting Huang and Kathy Dow-Burger

Title: Understanding how Autistic Adults Make Social Decisions


During an interaction, autistic and neurotypical individuals differ in the way they integrate various pieces of social information when deciding how to respond. A cognitive process involved in this is Theory of Mind (ToM), which is the ability to infer mental states, intentions, beliefs and thoughts to oneself and others. However, there is still little information regarding how autistic individuals process social information when undergoing an interaction. The present study utilized an interactive game that required both autistic and neurotypical participants to guess a hidden color, either green or blue, as accurately as possible. To help them with their guess, they were able to use a randomly-generated computer guess and the advice from two Advisors, one being more helpful than the other. It was found that both Autistic and Neurotypical participants had similar levels of accuracy in the task, but differed in their usage of the Advisor input. Neurotypical participants relied more heavily on Advisor input, and made more of a distinction between the intentions of the Advisors. Autistic participants relied less heavily on Advisor input, and made less of a distinction between the intentions of the Advisors. These results may indicate that autistic and neurotypical adults utilize different pieces of information to inform their responses in social situations.
Valerie Hsieh