Publication Date



Theory-of-Mind has been defined as the ability to explain and predict human behaviour by imputing mental states, such as attention, intention, desire, emotion, perception and belief, to the self and others (Astington & Barriault, 2001). Theory-of-Mind study began with Piaget and continued through a tradition of meta-cognitive research projects (Flavell, 2004). A study by Baron-Cohen, Leslie and Frith (1985) of Theory-of-Mind abilities in atypically developing children reported major difficulties experienced by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in imputing mental states to others. Since then, a wide range of follow-up research has been conducted to confirm these results. Traditional Theory-of-Mind research on ASD has been based on an either-or assumption that Theory-of-Mind is something one either possesses or does not. However, this approach fails to take account of how the ASD population themselves experience Theory-of-Mind. This paper suggests an alternative approach, Theory-of-Mind continuum model, to understand the Theory-of-Mind experience of people with ASD. The Theory-of-Mind continuum model will be developed through a comparison of subjective and objective aspects of mind, and phenomenal and psychological concepts of mind. This paper will demonstrate the importance of balancing qualitative and quantitative research methods in investigating the minds of people with ASD. It will enrich our theoretical understanding of Theory-of-Mind, as well as contain methodological implications for further studies in Theory of-Mind.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.