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When prototypes are not best: Judgments made by children with autism

Molesworth, C. J., Bowler, D. M. and Hampton, J. A. (2008). When prototypes are not best: Judgments made by children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(9), pp. 1721-1730. doi: 10.1007/s10803-008-0557-7


The current study used a factorial comparison experimental design to investigate conflicting findings on prototype effects shown by children with autism (Klinger & Dawson, 2001; Molesworth, Bowler, & Hampton, 2005). The aim was to see whether children with high –functioning autism could demonstrate prototype effects via categorization responses and whether failure to do so was related to difficulty understanding ambiguous task demands. Two thirds of the autism group did show an effect. The remainder, a sub-group defined by performance on a control task, did not. The discussion focuses on the influence of heterogeneity within the autism group and the ability to resolve ambiguity on task performance. Finally, an alternative experimental design is recommended for further research into these issues.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via
Publisher Keywords: Autism, Asperger syndrome, categorization, concepts, heterogeneity, prototype
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
Related URLs:
Date available in CRO: 16 Oct 2014 10:16
Date deposited: 8 August 2017
Date of first online publication: October 2008
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