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Volume 6 Issue 2 (April 2003), Pages 119-231

Self–other and third‐person categorization in normal and autistic children (pages 166-172)


Social information processing has been found to vary as a function of whether perceivers categorize individuals in terms of self and other (SO‐categorization) or using categories associated with the third pronominal person (3P‐categorization). Normal children aged 3–8, autistic children aged 5–9 and adult students were presented with decision tasks that enabled us to assess the use of SO‐ and 3P‐categorizations. A breakthrough of the SO‐categorization was observed at age 5. The hypothesis that 3P‐categorization precedes SO‐categorization was strongly disconfirmed, only adults showing consistent 3P‐categorization. Although previous research suggested a strong association between SO‐categorization and ‘I–Thou’ related social understanding, performances of autistic children suggested that impaired understanding of mental life does not detract from the ability to use SO‐categorization.

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