Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daniel Messinger

Second Committee Member

Heather A. Henderson

Third Committee Member

Amanda Jensen-Doss

Fourth Committee Member

Rebecca Bulotsky-Shearer

Fifth Committee Member

Michael Cuccaro


Children and adolescents with high functioning autism (HFA) display social deficits despite their average IQ levels. Social metaperception, or one’s ability to perceive what a social partner thinks of oneself during a social interaction, is hypothesized to support social competence. In this study, the novel Perceptions and Metaperceptions Questionnaire was designed to quantify and compare social metaperception abilities in adolescents with and without HFA. For all adolescents, accuracy of social metaperceptions (how well they matched with peer’s ratings) was unrelated to theory of mind abilities. All adolescents’ perceptions of their peers were associated with their metaperceptions. Interestingly, HFA adolescents tended to exhibit accurate metaperceptions, but typically developing adolescents did not. Although social metaperception accuracy did not relate to observed social competence, the ways that adolescents were perceived by peers, as well as the way they believed they were perceived by peers, influenced social competence. Findings extend our understanding of typically and atypically developing adolescents’ perceptions of peers and their dynamic abilities to discern what a social partner thinks of them. Further, findings inform existing interventions targeting social skills and social pragmatics training for individuals with HFA.


high functioning autism; adolescents; metaperception; perceptions; social cognition; social competence