All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Rajesh K Kana

Advisory Committee Members

Sarah E O'Kelley

Fred J Biasini

Timothy R Levine

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Despite extensive research on social cognition in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), investigations focused on the vulnerability of this population to deception have received rather limited attention. The role of executive function (EF) skills in detecting deception is even less understood in both typically developing (TD) and ASD populations. The dearth of current research on deception in ASD and the social implications of poor deception detection exemplify the need to understand the mechanisms that underlie this nuanced form of social interaction. The current study aims to investigate the neuropsychological mechanisms of detecting deception and the extent to which autism symptomatology impacts detecting deception in adults with and without ASD (n=30, ages 18-30). Participants completed a short battery of tests to assess EF skills (WASI-II, selected D-KEFS subtests), questionnaires to assess self-report ratings of autism symptomatology (SRS-2, AQ, EQ, and RMET) and EF (BRIEF-A), and a welldocumented deception detection task that required participants to make judgements about whether subjects in the videotaped vignettes were telling the truth or telling a lie. These videos spanned across veracity matched (sincere truth-tellers and insincere liars) and veracity mismatched (insincere truth-tellers and sincere liars) conditions. Results indicate that while controlling for age, gender, and FSIQ, both self-rated autism symptomatology (AQ Total Score) and EF skills (D-KEFS Tower Total Achievement Scaled Score and ii BRIEF-A GEC T-Score) uniquely impacted deception detection ability across different demeanor-based conditions. Increased ratings of autism symptoms predicted higher accuracy rates in the mismatched condition, while EF skills were most important for accurately detecting lies in the matched condition. Theory of mind (RMET) and truthbias (the tendency to believe others are telling the truth) were not related to task performance. Overall, these findings suggest that increased autism symptoms may place individuals with ASD at an advantage in some aspects of lie-detection, as they may be less likely to be manipulated by misleading social cues. Meanwhile, executive skills appear to be most important for lie-detection when the accompanying social cues are consistent with the individual’s veracity. These results provide insights to the mechanisms underlying deception detection in autism and related social-communication weaknesses.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.