Advanced Theory of Mind: Are the Eyes the Windows to the Soul? Exploring Mind Reading and its Relationship with Empathy and Friendship Quality

Ilvana Dzafic (2010). Advanced Theory of Mind: Are the Eyes the Windows to the Soul? Exploring Mind Reading and its Relationship with Empathy and Friendship Quality Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Ilvana Dzafic
Thesis Title Advanced Theory of Mind: Are the Eyes the Windows to the Soul? Exploring Mind Reading and its Relationship with Empathy and Friendship Quality
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Hocking, Julia
Total pages 106
Language eng
Subjects 380100 Psychology
Abstract/Summary The majority of research on 'mind reading' has focused on basic theory of mind (ToM); its development and deficiency particularly in those suffering from an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Limited research has been conducted on 'advanced' ToM which individuals unconsciously depend on every day. This study explored the mechanisms behind advanced ToM; the role of empathy, and how this ability impacts on an individual's social world. In addition, this study aimed to improve the ecological validity of existing ToM measures. The first hypothesis was that ToM ability would be greatest when the eyes were displayed and the voice was heard, relative to conditions with decreased cues. Next, it was hypothesised that the affective component of advanced ToM ability would be facilitated by situational empathy. Finally, it was predicted that individuals with a greater ToM ability would have better quality friendships and this would be mediated by dispositional empathy. Results revealed that seeing the eyes compared to the mouth facilitated advanced ToM during cognitive states (CSs); however, not for complex emotional states (CESs). Additionally, speech facilitation occurred when inferring CESs, however, not for CSs. It was found that CESs were better recognised compared to CSs; in spite of this, situational empathy did not seem to play a role. Finally, a significant indirect relationship between advanced ToM and friendship quality was found, with dispositional empathy as the mediator. It was concluded that advanced ToM may require a holistic facial representation with speech integrated; special attention to particular areas within the face might be ineffective in aims of improving this ability. In respect to individuals with ASD, improving their ToM ability may result in an indirect improvement in their social relationships by increasing their ability to empathise.

 
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Created: Mon, 04 Apr 2011, 14:47:48 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology