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Social Information Processing in Offenders with ASD

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Social Information Processing in Offenders with Autism Spectrum Disorder



  • Contact name

    Verity Chester

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    University of East Anglia

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    2 years, 0 months, 0 days

  • Research summary

    Social information processing (SIP) models, developed by Crick and Dodge (1994; 1996) are described as one of the most fruitful areas of study for understanding persistent aggression (Bowen et al., 2014; Stickle et al., 2009). SIP theory describes the cognitive steps that determine behavioural responses during social interactions; encoding, interpretation, goal clarification, response generation, and response decision. Garrigan and Langdon (in press) recently proposed an updated model, incorporating moral development, perspective-taking and other associated theories. \n\nDespite their potential, few studies have investigated SIP in adult offenders (Stickle et al., 2009; Bowen et al., 2014), particularly those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD is conceptualised by a deficits within imagination, communication and social interaction (Wing, & Gould, 1979). Although social deficits are central to this diagnosis, little research has evaluated the SIP abilities of this population and how this influences behaviour. \n\nWhen considering vulnerability to offending in ASD, general risk factors are relevant, e.g. low IQ, poor school achievement, hyperactivity-impulsivity-inattention, and ASD specific risk factors, such as circumscribed interests, and impairments of social understanding (Woodbury-Smith et al., 2005). Woodbury-Smith et al. (2005) reported that offenders with ASD had deficits at the encoding stage of SIP. Flood et al (2011) examined SIP, theory of mind and social functioning in young people with Asperger syndrome, who showed different patterns of intent attribution, response generation and response evaluation. Furthermore, theory of mind difficulties were associated with parental ratings of peer problems. The present research will build on this evidence base by examining several aspects of the Garrigan and Langdon (in press) SIP model, such as encoding, intent attributions, moral reasoning, and how this impacts behaviour, in a study comparing a matched sample of offenders and non-offenders with ASD. The study will also seek the perspectives of an informant, e.g. a family or support staff member. \n

  • REC name

    East of England - Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    21 Jul 2017

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion

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