Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Kiara R. Timpano

Second Committee Member

Heather A. Henderson

Third Committee Member

Jennifer C. Britton

Fourth Committee Member

Michael L. Cuccaro


Individuals with autism have consistently demonstrated atypical processing of and memory for self-referenced information compared to their typically developing peers, yet the underlying cause of these differences remains unknown. The present study aims to explore a potential mechanism underlying atypical memory for self-referenced information in higher functioning individuals with autism (HFA) and a comparison group of individuals without an autism diagnosis (COM). Participants included 79 children and adolescents with an HFA diagnosis (68 males, 11 females) and 73 COM individuals (53 males, 20 females) who completed a self-referenced memory task. Diagnostic group differences were detected in endorsement and memory for positive and negative trait adjectives, as well as in the relations between performance in each phase of the task. Results from a mediation model indicated that the Self-Positivity Bias significantly mediated the diagnostic group differences in preferential self-referenced memory. Results will be discussed with reference to the structure of the self-system in children with HFA, and the role of preferential self-processing in supporting social skill development, and in terms of the implications for the development of interventions for children with autism.


autism, high functioning autism, self-referenced memory, self-concept