Formal publication: September 2023
Authors: Birba, A., López-Pigüi, J., León Santana, I., & García, A.
Abstract: Situated models suggest that social concepts are grounded in interpersonal experience. However, few studies have tested this notion experimentally, and none has targeted individuals with reduced social interaction. Here, we assessed comprehension of text-level social and non-social concepts in persons with and without autistic-like traits. Participants read a social and a non-social text and answered questionnaires targeting social and non-social concepts, respectively. We compared behavioral outcomes, gauged their contribution to subject-level classification, and examined their association with validated measures of autism. Persons with autistic-like traits showed selective deficits in grasping text-level social concepts, even adjusting for intelligence, memory, and vocabulary. Also, social concept comprehension was the only variable that significantly classified between groups. Finally, social concept outcomes correlated negatively with measures of autism, including social interaction. Our results suggest that reduced interpersonal experience selectively compromises text-level social concept processing, offering empirical constraints for situated models of social semantics.
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