Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

The Effects of Social Context and Perspective on Language Processing: Evidence from Autism Spectrum Disorder

Barzy, Mahsa (2020) The Effects of Social Context and Perspective on Language Processing: Evidence from Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:81525)

Language: English
Download this file
[thumbnail of 253Thesis-Barzy.pdf]


This thesis aimed to provide new insights into the role of perspective and non-linguistic context in language processing among autistic and typically developing (TD) adults. The mental simulation account and the one-step model state that language is mentally simulated and interpreted in context, suggesting that these processes are activated online while linguistic input is processed. Little is known of whether the same processes are activated in autism. In seven experiments (four were fully pre-registered), I used offline and online measures (e.g. EEG, eye-tracking) to investigate how social factors, such as the perspective, speaker's voice, emotional states of the characters, and topic of conversation influence language comprehension in both lab and real-life settings, in autism and TD adults. Based on the weak central coherence (WCC), and the complex information processing disorder (CIPD) theories, it was expected that autistic adults would struggle to integrate the social context with language, or at least show some subtle delays in the time-course of these anticipation/integration processes. First, I failed to find the same effect as previous findings, showing enhanced processing for personalized language, suggesting that this process is dependent on individual preferences in perspective-taking and task demands. Furthermore, I found that contrary to the WCC, autistic individuals had an intact ability to integrate social context online, while extracting the meaning from language. There were subtle differences in the time-course and strength of these processes between autistic and TD adults under high cognitive load. Findings are in line with CIPD hypothesis, showing that online language processes are disrupted as task demands increase, which consequently affect the quality of their social interactions. Future research should further investigate how these subtle differences impact social communication abilities in everyday life in autism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Ferguson, Heather
Thesis advisor: Williams, David
Uncontrolled keywords: Autism- socially situated language processing- social interactions- online language processing - social context- perspective taking-social cognition- eye tracking- EEG
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2020 13:10 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2022 05:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Barzy, Mahsa.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.