Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 3376–3386 | Cite as

Theory of Mind (ToM) Performance in High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Schizotypal–Schizoid Personality Disorders (SSPD) Patients

  • Tereza-Maria Booules-KatriEmail author
  • Carla Pedreño
  • Jose-Blás Navarro
  • Montserrat Pamias
  • Jordi E. Obiols
Original Paper


The similarities between high functioning autism (HFA) and schizotypal–schizoid personality disorder (SSPD) in terms of social cognition and interpersonal deficits may lead to confusion in symptom interpretation, and consequently result in misdiagnosis. Thus, this study aims to investigate differences in mentalizing with particular interest on the socio-cognitive and socio-affective dimensions. Three Advanced Theory of Mind (ToM) tests were applied in 35 patients with HFA, 30 patients with SSPD and 36 healthy controls. Individuals with HFA showed greater impairment and no dissociation between affective and cognitive ToM components. Conversely, SSPD individuals displayed less difficulties but greater impairments on the cognitive component. Beyond the replicability of ToM impairment in HFA individuals, our findings suggest more impaired cognitive ToM in SSPD participants which further support the sequence of mentalizing development build upon different chronological stages.


Social cognition High functioning autism Schizotypal–schizoid personality disorder Advanced theory of mind Cognitive Affective 



This research was supported by Grant from Fondo Investigación Sanitaria (FIS PI081217). We express our sincere thanks to the participants and their families. We also gratefully acknowledge to a large number of professionals for their help with recruiting and testing the sample. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. This research constituted part of a master’s dissertation in the University of Autόnoma de Barcelona, it is based on an earlier study of Pedreno et al. (2017) entitled as “Exploring the Components of Advanced Theory of Mind in Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

Author Contributions

TBK conceived of the study, participated in its design and performed the measurement, interpretation of the data and drafted the manuscript. CP conceived of the study, participated in its design and acquisition of data. JBN participated in the design, performed the statistical analysis and interpretation of the data. MP conceived of the study, participated in its design and critical revision of the manuscript. JEO conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and critical revision of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Tereza-Maria Booules-Katri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carla Pedreño
    • 1
  • Jose-Blás Navarro
    • 2
  • Montserrat Pamias
    • 3
  • Jordi E. Obiols
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Psychopathology and Neuropsychology Research UnitUniversitát Autónoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Psychobiology and Methodology of Health SciencesUniversitát Autónoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Mental HealthCorporacio Sanitaria Parc Tauli de SabadellBellaterraSpain

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