Social-cognitive abilities and the relationship between Trait Emotional Intelligence and Theory of Mind: in blind and sighted adults
Fawcett 2011 MA.doc (264Kb)
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Background: While children with severe visual impairments have been observed to be profoundly delayed in acquiring some social cognitive abilities such as recognising the emotions of others and understanding the mental states of others, it is not known whether these deficits are long-term and are present in the visually impaired adult population. Aims: The aims of this study were to examine the performance of blind (N=10) and sighted (N=20) adults on an Advanced Theory of Mind task and on an emotion recognition task. Additionally, recent research has highlighted the existence of a relationship between Theory of Mind (ToM) and Emotional Intelligence (EI). This was also examined in the present study. Method: Three tasks; Faux Pas recognition, Reading the Mind in the Voice and the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire Short Form were employed to gain insight into the differences in performance between the two groups. Results: Blind adults performed significantly better than sighted adults on ToM. Both groups performed similarly on emotion recognition and EI. A positive relationship was identified between EI and social-cognitive ToM in the whole sample as well as between EI and some sub-components of ToM, such as empathy. Conclusions: The results provide evidence that deficits displayed by visually impaired children in social-cognitive abilities may not necessarily be long-term problems. The evidence for a correlation between EI and ToM adds support to the growing literature in this area.