Young Adults' Social Interest in Complex Film Clips: Impact of Autism Characteristics
Lorenzi, Jill Elizabeth
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Deficits in social functioning in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be explained in part by the limited salience of or reward value associated with the social world, relative to individuals with typical development (e.g., Jones and Klin, 2008; Mundy, 1995; Mundy and Neal, 2005). However, despite many calls for the use of ecologically valid, rich, complex stimuli when investigating deficits in social attention and interest in ASD, few studies have adopted these recommendations. The current study investigated social interest in a non-clinical college student population (n = 78; 72% female; M age = 20.41 years) by analyzing participants' verbal descriptions of dynamic film clips. It was predicted that as level of self-reported ASD characteristics increased, proportions of verbal descriptions devoted to higher-level social information (e.g., relationships, mental or emotional states) would decrease, while holding self-reported social anxiety, autonomic flexibility (i.e., heart rate variability), and verbal ability constant. In other words, self-reported ASD characteristics were hypothesized to impact social interest above and beyond the effects of other predicted covariates. Results, however, did not reveal significant differences in social interest across varying levels of ASD characteristics, and neither social anxiety nor autonomic flexibility served as a moderator of this association. Variations of the current study and the inclusion of a clinical population are discussed as possible future directions to refine the study and better target intervention efforts aimed at ameliorating social deficits in ASD.
- Doctoral Dissertations