Cecil Gibb Seminar: An Integrated Self-Categorization model of Autism

Abstract: 

In this talk, I will present our recently published Integrated Self-Categorization model of Autism (ISCA; Skorich & Haslam, 2022). This model brings together the cognitive–perceptual and social–communication features of autism – previously thought to have distinct genetic, neurobiological and cognitive aetiologies – under a single explanatory framework. Specifically, ISCA proposes that the social-communication features of autism, related to theory of mind dysfunction, emerge from the cognitive-perceptual features, related to enhanced perceptual functioning and weak central coherence, via a difference in the self-categorization process. I will present the assumptions on which the model is based and will show how a set of precise, testable hypotheses logically follow – including a set of novel hypotheses that do not emerge from existing models of autism. I will then run through a number of direct empirical tests of these hypotheses, which, taken together, provide strong empirical support for ISCA. I will conclude by discussing the implications of the model for understanding autism, including its neurobiological and developmental underpinnings, and for intervention to improve the lives of autistic people.

Bio:

Daniel Skorich is a lecturer in the Research School of Psychology, ANU. Daniel completed his undergraduate studies and his PhD at the ANU. His PhD thesis, titled Motivated but Confounded Tacticians: Revisiting the Relationship between Categorization and Cognitive Resources challenged the dominant Cognitive Miser/Motivated Tactician perspective on stereotyping and impression formation, and proposed a novel integrated model of these phenomena. After a number of years teaching Criminal Psychology at the ANU, Daniel moved to the University of Queensland (UQ) and took up a Postdoctoral Fellowship attached to Professor Alex Haslam’s Laureate Fellowship on Social Identity and Health. In his time at UQ, Daniel developed the Integrated Self-Categorization model of Autism (ISCA; Skorich & Haslam, 2022), which brings together facets of autism previously understood to have distinct aetiologies. Daniel has also pursued research on face processing; person perception; shared attention; gaze cueing; smoking behaviour; self-complexity buffering; suicidality in autism; driving and hazard perception; persuasion; outgroup homogeneity; and personality, among other topics. Daniel will be spending most of the second part of 2022 writing a book – Person as Category Theory (PACT): A New Paradigm for Categorization in Social Psychology (with Dr Ken Mavor, to be published by Routledge in late 2023) – which argues for a more expansive understanding of the categorization process than that which currently underpins much of social psychology.