Skip to main content Accessibility help

Metacognition may be more impaired than mindreading in autism

  • David M. Williams (a1), Sophie E. Lind (a2) and Francesca Happé (a3)


This commentary focuses on evidence from autism concerning the relation between metacognition and mindreading. We support Carruthers' rejection of models 1 (independent systems) and 3 (metacognition before mindreading), and provide evidence to strengthen his critique. However, we also present evidence from autism that we believe supports model 2 (one mechanism, two modes of access) over model 4 (mindreading is prior).



Hide All
Fisher, N., Happé, F. & Dunn, J. (2005) The relationship between vocabulary, grammar, and false belief task performance in children with autistic spectrum disorders and children with moderate learning difficulties. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 46:409–19.
Hogrefe, G. J, Wimmer, H. & Perner, J. (1986) Ignorance versus false belief: A developmental lag in attribution of epistemic states. Child Development 57:567–82.
Kazak, S., Collis, G. & Lewis, V. (1997) Can young people with autism refer to knowledge states? Evidence from their understanding of “know” and “guess.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 38:10011009.
Lind, S. E. (2008) Episodic memory, “theory of mind,” and temporally extended self-awareness in autism spectrum disorder. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, City University, London.
Lind, S. E. & Bowler, D. M. (2008) Episodic memory and autonoetic consciousness in autism spectrum disorders: The roles of self-awareness, representational abilities and temporal cognition. In: Memory in autism: Theory and evidence, ed. Boucher, J. M. & Bowler, D. M., pp. 166–87. Cambridge University Press.
Lind, S. E. & Bowler, D. M. (under revised review) Self-other source memory and its relation to theory-of-mind in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
McGeer, V. (2004) Autistic self-awareness. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 11(3):235–51.
Nichols, S. & Stich, S. (2003) Mindreading: An integrated account of pretence, self-awareness, and understanding other minds. Oxford University Press.
Perner, J. (2000) Memory and theory of mind. In: The Oxford handbook of memory, ed. Tulving, E. & Craik, F. I. M., pp. 297312. Oxford University Press.
Raffman, D. (1999) What autism may tell us about self-awareness: A commentary on Frith and Happé. Mind and Language 14(1):2331.
Williams, D. M. (2008) Conceptual and pre-conceptual awareness of self and other: Studies of autism and typical development. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of London.
Williams, D. M. & Happé, F. (in press a) Representing intentions in self and other: Studies of autism and typical development. Developmental Science.
Williams, D. M. & Happé, F. (in press b) “What did I say?” versus “What did I think?”: Attributing false beliefs to self amongst children with and without autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed