Social Attribution Task

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Have you every heard of the Social Attribution Task (SAT)? 

I hadn't until I attended SCERTS Model training by Emily Rubin, M.S., CCC-SLP




If you haven't heard of SAT, let me tell you about it...
  • It was originally a cartoon created by Heider and Simmel in 1944 
  • It is now available on YouTube! You can access it at work, if you know how to access YouTube. At my work you have to use MyBigCampus or know how to get through the filters to access it at your site.
  • I would suggest you watch it first before showing your students.
  • You see shapes move around on screen for a few minutes.

How do you administer it to your students? 
  • The student being assessed first watches the video.
  •  Then student is asked to describe what they saw.
  • You transcribe exactly what they say. 
  • Typical students would describe the video using social terms (anthropomorphic words),  meaning the student has to interpret the inanimate symbols and attach social actions to these symbols. 
  • Examples: The triangle is trapped! The triangles are fighting. The circle and the triangle are friends, they trapped the big bully triangle. He is mean. The  circle and the little triangle run away from the big triangle. The big triangle destroyed the box.

Why should you use SAT in your assessments? 
  • A study by Klin (2000) has shown that students on with Autism Spectrum Disorders are shown to pass high level theory of mind (ToM) tasks and assessments, but do not show the same level of social adaptation in a naturalistic setting.
  • The study also discussed that, "individuals with autism and AS identified about a quarter of the social elements in the story, a third of their attributions were irrelevant to the social plot and they used pertinent ToM terms very infrequently. They were also unable to derive psychologically based personality features from the shapes' movements. When provided with more explicit verbal information on the nature of the cartoon, individuals with AS improved their performance slightly more than those with autism, but not significantly so."
  • Meaning students with Austism Spectrum Disorders would be able to pass our Theory of Mind  (ToM) tasks, or perform well on pragmatic assessments. However when viewing the Social Attribution Task (SAT) they would exhibit difficulty describing socially what is happening in the video (e.g. They might respond with "I see a circle, two triangle and a square. The circle and the two triangles are moving." but lacking humanistic words like fighting, chasing, mean, friends).  
  •  Another study by Abell, Happe & Frith (2000) found that students with Intellectual Disabilities also performed poorly on the SAT. However students on with ASD tended to use inappropriate descriptors more often. Meaning their descriptions would not be appropriate to what they are watching.
  •  They also found that students with ASD would pass a standard false belief task, but had difficulty with the SAT (Abell, Happe & Frith, 2000). 
  • What does this mean? You can use the SAT in your assessments as an informal measure of pragmatic abilities!

Items to consider:
  • A study by Hu, Chan & McAlonan (2010) suggests that the SAT would best be used on students 8 years or older, "Together studies suggest social attribution ability may not fully develop before the age of 8 years old." Students younger than 8 years old would not be expected to perform well on this task. 
  • Hu, Chan & McAlonan (2010) also found that girls performed better than boys on the SAT.
  • This is an informal assessment. I have not found norms or researched enough to find what is a "typical" versus "atypical" responses. However, you can use this to informally describe how a student views social situations. You can provide a narrative of how they responded and use your professional judgement to discuss the appropriateness and amount of humanistic traits.

Do you know more about the Social Attribution Task (SAT)?
Have you ever used it? 
Leave a comment, I would love to hear about it!
 
References   
  • Klin, A, (2000) Attributing social meaning to ambiguous visual stimuli in higher-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome: The Social Attribution Task. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. Oct;41(7):831-46.
     
    Hu, Z., Chan, R., & McAlonan, G. (2010) Maturation of social attributionskills in typically developing children: an investigation using the social attribution task. Behavioral and Brain Functions Feb. 6:10 
     
    Abell, F.; Happé, F. & Frith, U. (2000) Do triangles play tricks? Attribution of mental states to animated shapes in normal and abnormal development. Cognitive Development. Mar 15(1):1-16

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