Theory-of-mind deficits and causal attributions
Kinderman P., Dunbar R., Bentall RP.
The ability to understand and conceptualize the mental processes of other people is considered to play a vital role in social interactions. Deficits in this area, sometimes known as theory-of-mind (ToM) deficits, have been identified as playing a possible causal role in autism, Asperger's syndrome and schizophrenic disorders, particularly paranoia. Paranoia has also been associated with an abnormal attributional style, an observation that suggests that ToM and attributional processes may be related phenomena. This paper describes a study examining the relationship between attributional processes and ToM deficits. Seventy-seven undergraduate participants completed a ToM task and forty-six also completed the Internal, Personal and Situational Attributions Questionnaire (IPSAQ). ToM deficits were associated with an increased tendency to identify other individuals as responsible for negative social situations. The implications of the observed relationship between attributions and ToM deficits are discussed.