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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 18;9(4):e95568. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095568. eCollection 2014.

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders do not use social stereotypes in irony comprehension.

Author information

1
Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS, UMR 8129, Institut d'Etude de la Cognition, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.
2
INSERM U 955, IMRB & University Paris Est Creteil, AP-HP, Henri Mondor-Albert Chenevier Hospitals, Department of Psychiatry, Fondation FondaMental, French National Science Foundation, Creteil, France.
3
Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, LPL UMR 7309, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France.

Abstract

Social and communication impairments are part of the essential diagnostic criteria used to define Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Difficulties in appreciating non-literal speech, such as irony in ASDs have been explained as due to impairments in social understanding and in recognizing the speaker's communicative intention. It has been shown that social-interactional factors, such as a listener's beliefs about the speaker's attitudinal propensities (e.g., a tendency to use sarcasm, to be mocking, less sincere and more prone to criticism), as conveyed by an occupational stereotype, do influence a listener's interpretation of potentially ironic remarks. We investigate the effect of occupational stereotype on irony detection in adults with High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome (HFA/AS) and a comparison group of typically developed adults. We used a series of verbally presented stories containing ironic or literal utterances produced by a speaker having either a "sarcastic" or a "non-sarcastic" occupation. Although individuals with HFA/AS were able to recognize ironic intent and occupational stereotypes when the latter are made salient, stereotype information enhanced irony detection and modulated its social meaning (i.e., mockery and politeness) only in comparison participants. We concluded that when stereotype knowledge is not made salient, it does not automatically affect pragmatic communicative processes in individuals with HFA/AS.

PMID:
24748103
PMCID:
PMC3991690
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0095568
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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