Lisa Capps

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States

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Publications (24)61.89 Total impact

  • Elinor Ochs, Lisa Capps
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    ABSTRACT: This pathbreaking book looks at everyday storytelling as a twofold phenomenon--a response to our desire for coherence, but also to our need to probe and acknowledge the enigmatic aspects of experience. Letting us listen in on dinner-table conversation, prayer, and gossip, Elinor Ochs and Lisa Capps develop a way of understanding the seemingly contradictory nature of everyday narrative--as a genre that is not necessarily homogeneous and as an activity that is not always consistent but consistently serves our need to create selves and communities. Focusing on the ways in which narrative is co-constructed, and on the variety of moral stances embodied in conversation, the authors draw out the instructive inconsistencies of these collaborative narratives, whose contents and ordering are subject to dispute, flux, and discovery. In an eloquent last chapter, written as Capps was waging her final battle with cancer, they turn to "unfinished narratives," those stories that will never have a comprehensible end. With a hybrid perspective--part humanities, part social science--their book captures these complexities and fathoms the intricate and potent narratives that live within and among us.
    07/2009; Harvard University Press., ISBN: 9780674041592
  • Molly Losh, Lisa Capps
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, the authors investigate emotional understanding in autism through a discourse analytic framework to provide a window into children's strategies for interpreting emotional versus nonemotional encounters and consider the implications for the mechanisms underlying emotional understanding in typical development. Accounts were analyzed for thematic content and discourse structure. Whereas high-functioning children with autism were able to discuss contextually appropriate accounts of simple emotions, their strategies for interpreting all types of emotional (but not nonemotional) experiences differed from those used by typically developing children. High-functioning children with autism were less inclined to organize their emotional accounts in personalized causal-explanatory frameworks and displayed a tendency to describe visually salient elements of experiences seldom observed among comparison children. Findings suggest that children with autism possess less coherent representations of emotional experiences and use alternative strategies for interpreting emotionally evocative encounters. Discussion focuses on the significance of these findings for informing the nature of emotional dysfunction in autism as well as implications for theories of emotional understanding in typical development.
    Developmental Psychology 10/2006; 42(5):809-18. · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    David M. Sobel, Lisa M. Capps, Alison Gopnik
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    ABSTRACT: Researchers in early social-cognition have found that the ability to reverse an ambiguous figure is correlated with success on theory of mind tasks (e.g. Gopnik & Rosati, 2001). The present experiment examined children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) without mental delay to see whether a similar relationship existed. Ropar, Mitchell, and Ackroyd (2003)demonstrated that children with ASD with mental delay were impaired on theory of mind tasks, but were as likely as mentally delayed controls to generate both interpretations of an ambiguous figure when informed of its ambiguity. The present study replicated this finding on children with ASD without mental delay. However, overall perception of ambiguous figures was different. These children were less likely to spontaneously generate both interpretations of the figure, and more likely to perseverate on a single interpretation than the comparison children. Like Ropar et al., we found no correlation between theory of mind and informed reversals, but spontaneous reversals were correlated with performance on an advanced theory of mind task. These data suggest that reversals of ambiguous figures are linked to higher-level representational abilities, which might also be involved in social functioning, and impaired in children with ASD.
    British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 05/2005; 23(2):159 - 174.
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    ABSTRACT: Teasing requires the ability to understand intention, nonliteral communication, pretense, and social context. Children with autism experience difficulty with such skills, and consequently, are expected to have difficulty with teasing. To better understand teasing concepts and behaviors, children with autism, their parents, and age and Verbal-IQ-matched comparison children and parents described concepts and experiences of teasing and engaged in a parent-child teasing interaction. The teasing of children with autism was less playful and provocative and focused less on social norms than that of comparison children. Similarly, parents of children with autism teased in less playful ways. Scores on a theory of mind task accounted for several of the observed differences. Discussion focused on the importance of understanding social context and playful behavior during teasing.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 03/2005; 33(1):55-68. · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    Erin A Heerey, Dacher Keltner, Lisa M Capps
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    ABSTRACT: Self-conscious emotions such as embarrassment and shame are associated with 2 aspects of theory of mind (ToM): (a) the ability to understand that behavior has social consequences in the eyes of others and (b) an understanding of social norms violations. The present study aimed to link ToM with the recognition of self-conscious emotion. Children with and without autism identified facial expressions conscious of self-conscious and non-self-conscious emotions from photographs. ToM was also measured. Children with autism performed more poorly than comparison children at identifying self-conscious emotions, though they did not differ in the recognition of non-self-conscious emotions. When ToM ability was statistically controlled, group differences in the recognition of self-conscious emotion disappeared. Discussion focused on the links between ToM and self-conscious emotion.
    Emotion 01/2004; 3(4):394-400. · 3.88 Impact Factor
  • Molly Losh, Lisa Capps
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines the narrative abilities of 28 high-functioning children with autism or Asperger's Syndrome and 22 typically developing children across two different discourse contexts. As compared with the typically developing children, the high-functioning group performed relatively well in the storybook context but exhibited difficulty imbuing their narratives of personal experience with the more sophisticated characteristics typically employed by the comparison group. Furthermore, children with autism or Asperger's Syndrome demonstrated impairments inferring and building on the underlying causal relationships both within and across story episodes in both narrative contexts. Findings further revealed that the narrative abilities of children with autism or Asperger's Syndrome were associated with performance on measures of emotional understanding, but not theory of mind or verbal IQ. Findings are discussed in relation to the social and emotional underpinnings of narrative discourse.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 07/2003; 33(3):239-51. · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Drawing on E. Goffman's concepts of face and strategic interaction, the authors define a tease as a playful provocation in which one person comments on something relevant to the target. This approach encompasses the diverse behaviors labeled teasing, clarifies previous ambiguities, differentiates teasing from related practices, and suggests how teasing can lead to hostile or affiliative outcomes. The authors then integrate studies of the content of teasing. Studies indicate that norm violations and conflict prompt teasing. With development, children tease in playful ways, particularly around the ages of 11 and 12 years, and understand and enjoy teasing more. Finally, consistent with hypotheses concerning contextual variation in face concerns, teasing is more frequent and hostile when initiated by high-status and familiar others and men, although gender differences are smaller than assumed. The authors conclude by discussing how teasing varies according to individual differences and culture.
    Psychological Bulletin 03/2001; 127(2):229-48. · 15.58 Impact Factor
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    L Capps, M Losh, C Thurber
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    ABSTRACT: This study compares the narrative abilities of 13 children with autism, 13 children with developmental delays, and 13 typically developing children matched on language ability. Although groups did not differ in their use of causal language or internal state terms, children with autism and children with developmental delays were less likely than typical children to identify the causes of characters' internal states. Rather, they tended simply to label emotions and explain actions. Children with autism and children with developmental delays also relied on a more restricted range of evaluative devices, which both convey point of view and maintain listener involvement. In addition, the narrative abilities of children with autism were linked to performance on measures of theory of mind and an index of conversational competence, whereas this was not the case among children with developmental delays. Findings are discussed in relation to the social, cognitive, and emotional underpinnings and consequences of narrative activity.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 05/2000; 28(2):193-204. · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the effect of support groups on survival, the authors retrospectively studied 21 HIV-seropositive women who died during the course of participation in a natural history study of HIV. Groups were composed of women who self-selected HIV support groups before death (n = 11) and a comparison group (n = 10). Survival analysis found group participation to be associated with increased longevity (73 months vs. 45 months; P = 0.011). Proportional-hazards regression demonstrated that HIV-related support groups and smaller family size significantly influenced survival (P = 0.0002). Factors related to group participation and ways in which support groups might promote longevity are discussed.
    Psychosomatics 01/2000; 41(3):262-8. · 1.73 Impact Factor
  • Lisa Capps, George Bonanno
    Discourse Processes - DISCOURSE PROCESS. 01/2000; 30(1):1-25.
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    ABSTRACT: While it is widely recognized that autism undercuts conversational ability, there has been little systematic examination of the involvement of children with autism in informal conversational interaction. This study compares the behaviour of 15 children with autism and 15 children with developmental delays matched on language ability within the context of a semi-structured conversation. Children with autism more often failed to respond to questions and comments, less often offered new, relevant contributions, and produced fewer narratives of personal experience. In contrast to prior research findings, groups did not differ with respect to use of gesture: several children with autism enhanced their communication through dramatization and pointing. Discussion focuses on the nature of pragmatic impairment in autism; factors underlying the development of conversational ability, including theory of mind; and practices that may promote communicative competence.
    Autism 01/1998; 2(4):325-344. · 2.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sixteen children (M = 11 years) of agoraphobic parents were compared with 16 children of parents with no history of psychopathology, matched on age, gender and socioeconomic status. The majority (68%) of children of agoraphobic parents met DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria, anxiety disorders being most common. They reported more fear and anxiety and less control over various risks than did comparison children. Group's perceptions of the prevalence and their vulnerability to these risks did not differ. Agoraphobic mothers reported more separation anxiety than did comparison mothers, and maternal separation anxiety was negatively correlated with children's perceived control. Results are related to models of anxiety transmission.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 06/1996; 37(4):445-52. · 5.42 Impact Factor
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    Elinor Ochs, Lisa Capps
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    ABSTRACT: Across cultures, narrative emerges early in communicative development and is a fundamental means of making sense of experience. Narrative and self are in-separable in that narrative is simultaneously born out of experience and gives shape to experience. Narrative activity provides tellers with an opportunity to impose order on otherwise disconnected events, and to create continuity be-tween past, present, and imagined worlds. Narrative also interfaces self and soci-ety, constituting a crucial resource for socializing emotions, attitudes, and iden-tities, developing interpersonal relationships, and constituting membership in a community. Through various genres and modes; through discourse, grammar, lexicon, and prosody; and through the dynamics of collaborative authorship, narratives bring multiple, partial selves to life.
    Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 01/1996; 25:19-43.
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the relationships between perceived self-competence, intellectual ability, emotional understanding, and parent report of social adaptation in 18 nonretarded children with autism. Children who perceived themselves as less socially competent demonstrated stronger intellectual capabilities, greater understanding of others' emotional experiences, and were better able to access their own emotional experiences than were those who perceived themselves as more socially competent. According to their parents, children who reported less social competence also displayed more socially adaptive behavior, and expressed more interest and less sadness and fear than did those who reported greater social competence. Discussion focuses on potential effects of this heightened capacity for emotional understanding on self-esteem and implications for intervention with highly intelligent persons with autism.
    Development and Psychopathology 11/1995; 7(01):137 - 149. · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: I am most deeply indebted to Rob, his family, and nurse for allowing me access to their lives. My understanding of what is happening in these data has been greatly helped by comments from Lisa Capps, David Goode, Anita Guynn, Russell Harless, Cathryn Houghton, Sally Jacoby, Minna Laakso, Melissa Lefko, Alycia Myhrer, Elinor Ochs, Kersten Priest, Curtis Renoe, Emanuel Schegloff, Jennifer Schlegel, Marja Leena Sjoronson, Elizabeth Teas-Heaster, and most especially Candy Goodwin.
    Research on Language and Social Interaction 01/1995; 28:233-260. · 1.23 Impact Factor
  • Lisa Capps, Elinor Ochs
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    ABSTRACT: This study explores how agoraphobia is realized through the activity of storytelling. Analysis of one agoraphobic woman's narratives articulates (a) the narrative structuring of a panic episode, (b) the grammatical resources systematically recruited to portray panic as unaccountable and the protagonist as irrational and helpless, and (c) a recurrent communicative dilemma narrated in the setting, which anticipates the onset of panic. The narrator presents two conflicting accounts of panic: One foregrounded in her stories and in clinical literature links panic to an immediate activity and location; another backgrounded in her stories and heretofore unrecognized in the literature links panic to a failure to communicate unwillingness to participate in proposed activities that compromise the protagonist's perceived well‐being. We conclude that agoraphobia is a communicative disorder that constructs a range of relationships. This study offers a methodology for researchers, clinicians, and sufferers of agoraphobia for illuminating the complex logic and paradoxes in narrative accounts of panic experience.
    Discourse Processes - DISCOURSE PROCESS. 01/1995; 19(3):407-439.
  • Lisa Capps, Marian Sigman, Peter Mundy
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    ABSTRACT: Nineteen autistic children were examined in a modified version of Ainsworth's Strange Situation. The attachment security of 15 children could be classified. Each of these children displayed disorganized attachment patterns, but almost half (40%) of them were subclassified as securely attached. To assess the validity of the attachment classifications, children and their mothers were observed in a separate interaction. Mothers of children who were subclassified as securely attached displayed greater sensitivity than mothers of children who were subclassified as insecurely attached. Children who were subclassified as securely attached more frequently initiated social interaction with their mothers than did children who were subclassified as insecurely attached. Children with secure and insecure subclassifications were compared to investigate correlations between attachment organization and representational ability and social-emotional understanding. Although children with underlying secure attachments were no more likely to initiate joint attention, they were more responsive to bids for joint attention, made requests more frequently, and demonstrated greater receptive language ability than children subclassified as insecurely attached. Discussion focuses on dynamics that may contribute to individual differences in the attachment organization of autistic children and on the reciprocal relationship between advances in our understanding of normal and pathological development.
    Development and Psychopathology 02/1994; 6(02):249 - 261. · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Parents' perceptions of their children's emotional expressiveness, and possible bases for these perceptions, were investigated in a study comparing older, nonretarded autistic and normal children and in another study comparing young autistic, mentally retarded, and normal children. Both groups of autistic children were perceived as showing more negative emotion and less positive emotion than comparison children. In the younger sample, parental perceptions correlated with the children's attention and responsiveness to others' displays of emotion in 2 laboratory situations. Findings contradict the view that autism involves the "absence of emotional reaction" (American Psychiatric Association, 1987, p. 35).
    Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 07/1993; 61(3):475-84. · 4.85 Impact Factor
  • L Capps, N Yirmiya, M Sigman
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    ABSTRACT: Non-retarded autistic children are compared to normal controls on measures of emotion expression and recognition. In general, autistic subjects recounted appropriate examples of simple and complex emotions, and accurately labeled relatively ambiguous affect expression in pictures. Autistic children manifested some difficulty talking about socially derived emotions, pride and embarrassment. They required more time and more prompts, their responses were more tentative and "scripted", and they displayed limited understanding of the salience of others in embarrassing situations. Results are discussed in relation to theory of mind impairment and compensation strategies in autism.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 11/1992; 33(7):1169-82. · 5.42 Impact Factor
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Publication Stats

1k Citations
61.89 Total Impact Points


  • 2006
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center
      Chapel Hill, NC, United States
  • 2003–2005
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Department of Psychology
      Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 1992–1996
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • Division of Adult Psychiatry
      • • Department of Psychology
      Los Angeles, California, United States