R. Peter Hobson's research while affiliated with University College London and other places

Publications (86)

Article
Disinhibited attachment behavior is related to early institutional rearing and to later social maladaptation. It is also seen among infants reared at home whose mothers have histories of child maltreatment or psychiatric hospitalization. However, little is known about the maternal psychiatric diagnoses that might be associated with disinhibited beh...
Article
Background Pragmatic language, including conversational ability, can be difficult for people with autism. Difficulties with dialogue may reflect impairment in interpersonal engagement more than general language ability. Method We investigated conversational abilities among children and adolescents with and without autism (n = 18 per group) matched...
Article
The aim of this study was to examine the relations between severity of children's autism and qualities of parent-child interaction. We studied these variables at two points of time in children receiving a treatment that has a focus on social engagement, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI; Gutstein 2009). Participants were 18 parent-child dy...
Article
How can we investigate the relation between language and the human capacity for intersubjective engagement? Here we combine insights from linguistics and psychology to study the language of children with autism. We begin by reviewing why it might be worthwhile to study autism from the perspective of dialogic resonance, defined as the catalytic acti...
Article
The aim of this study was to examine the relation between symbolic play and communicative engagement among children with and without autism. Our predictions were firstly, that in moment-by-moment interactions during semi-structured interactive play with an adult, children with and without autism would tend to show shifts in meanings in symbolic pla...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing body of opinion that we should view autism as fractionable into different, largely independent sets of clinical features. The alternative view is that autism is a coherent syndrome in which principal features of the disorder stand in intimate developmental relationship with each other. Studies of congenitally blind children offer...
Article
The focus of this study is the nature and concomitants of pretend play among young children with autism. Age- and language-matched children with autism (n= 27), autism spectrum disorder (n= 14), and developmental disorders without autism (n= 16) were administered the Test of Pretend Play (ToPP; Lewis & Boucher, 1997), with an additional rating of '...
Article
In this paper, I offer some reflections on the standing of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the National Health Service (NHS), with special reference to contemporary forms of evidence-based thinking. I consider what may follow when a narrow view of science or psychotherapeutic practice becomes conventional wisdom and assumes dominance. I place stres...
Article
The aim of this study was to examine how severity of autism affects children's interactions (relatedness) and relationships with their parents. Participants were 25 parent-child dyads that included offspring who were children with autism aged from 4 to 14 years. The severity of the children's autism was assessed using the calibrated severity metric...
Article
In this article, I consider the structure of interpersonal emotional relations. I argue that current cognitive-developmental theory has overestimated the role of conceptual thinking, and underestimated the role of intrinsic social-emotional organization, in the early development of such feelings as jealousy, shame, and concern. I suggest that human...
Article
We evaluated how children with autism make linguistic adjustments when talking with someone else. We devised two novel measures to assess (a) overall conversational linkage and (b) utterance-by-utterance resonance within dialogue between an adult and matched participants with and without autism (n = 12 per group). Participants with autism were less...
Article
The author's aim in this article is to dwell on some developmental considerations that are relevant for explaining abnormalities in the language of individuals with autism and Asperger's syndrome. We face a major challenge in achieving an appropriate level of focus as we move between a perspective on the development of specifically linguistic funct...
Article
I consider the nature of the psychoanalytic enterprise, both methodologically and conceptually, and the various ways in which it may bear upon, and be affected by considerations from, individuals with autism. I conclude that in certain respects, phenomena from autism may serve to highlight the value of psychoanalytic concepts, precisely because tho...
Article
In this commentary, I consider several strengths of the position adopted by Racine and Carpendale (2007), but suggest that the authors are in danger of overstating their case. In doing so, they appear to sideline an issue that should be pivotal for accounts of joint attention: how does a child come to arrive at an understanding that people, both th...
Article
When children draw pictures of human beings, they reveal things not only about their general intellectual and artistic abilities, but also about their awareness and conception of themselves and others. What might the human figure drawings of children with autism reveal about their images of self and other – and what might they disclose about social...
Article
Atypical forms of autism may yield insights into the development and nature of the syndrome. We conducted a follow-up study of nine congenitally blind and seven sighted children who, eight years earlier, had satisfied formal diagnostic criteria for autism and had been included in groups matched for chronological age and verbal ability. In keeping w...
Article
My aim in this paper is to present reasons for adopting a focus on the development of self/other-awareness when characterizing the developmental psychopathology of autism. The strengths of such a position include an emphasis on children's emotional relations with embodied persons as foundational for their growing understanding of minds. I give spec...
Chapter
IntroductionThe Development of Social EmotionsWhat is “Complex” about Complex Emotions?The Case of JealousyIdentifying with OthersThe Case of AutismConclusion References
Article
In three experimental conditions, we tested matched children with and without autism (n = 15 per group) for their comprehension and use of first person plural ('we') and third person singular ('he') pronouns, and examined whether such linguistic functioning related to their social interaction. The groups were indistinguishable in their comprehensio...
Article
We employed semi-structured tests to determine whether children with autism produce and comprehend deictic (person-centred) expressions such as 'this'/'that', 'here'/'there' and 'come'/'go', and whether they understand atypical non-verbal gestural deixis in the form of directed head-nods to indicate location. In Study 1, most participants spontaneo...
Article
Women with borderline personality disorder have conflictual interpersonal relations that may extend to disrupted patterns of interaction with their infants. To assess how women with borderline personality disorder engage with their 12 to 18-month-old infants in separation-reunion episodes. We videotaped mother-infant interactions in separation-reun...
Article
My aims in this paper are twofold: firstly, to explore the relevance of Wittgenstein's thinking for characterizing the early development of interpersonal understanding and social cognition among typically developing children; and secondly, to illustrate how his writings offer a conceptual framework within which we might fashion an account of the de...
Conference Paper
Background: Socio-cognitive approaches to language acquisition emphasize the importance of social experience for a child’s ability to learn how to use words. Given that social relations involve affective as well as cognitive processes, how far might some of the pragmatic language deficits of children with autism be grounded in affective or other...
Conference Paper
Background: Individuals with autism have difficulties in their relations with other people – both caregivers and peers. Adolescence can bring special challenges, and co-morbid conditions may exacerbate affected adolescents’ problems with adaptive functioning and quality of life. It is important to discover whether both in children and adolescents...
Article
There has been substantial research on children's empathic responsiveness towards distressed people, and on the limited responsiveness of children with autism. To date, however, there have not been experimental studies to test how far children show concern towards someone who might be expected to feel badly, when that person has not (yet) expressed...
Article
What does it mean for a child to imitate someone else? We tested matched groups of children with and without autism (n=16 for each group, with a mean chronological age of 11 years and a mean verbal mental age of 6 years) to investigate two potentially dissociable aspects of imitation: copying goal-directed actions, on the one hand, and imitating th...
Article
In this paper I consider how thinking emerges out of human infants' relatedness towards the personal and non-personal world. I highlight the contrast between cognitive aspects and cognitive components of psychological functioning, and propose that even when thinking has become a partly separable component of the mind, affective and conative aspects...
Article
We hypothesized that the qualities of play shown by children with autism reflect their impoverished experience of identifying with other people's attitudes and moving among person-anchored perspectives. On this basis, we predicted their play should manifest a relative lack of the social-developmental hallmarks that typify creative symbolic function...
Article
Are children with autism able to adopt, and shift among, the psychological perspectives of different people? Fifteen children with autism and 15 without autism, matched for chronological age and verbal ability, were given Feffer's (1970) role-taking task in which they were asked to tell and then re-tell stories from different protagonists' perspect...
Article
There has been limited study of how the constitutional characteristics of infants with Down syndrome (DS) influence the patterning of their relations with caregivers. To assess natural and perturbed interactions between infants with DS and their mothers, we tested ten 6-month-old infants with DS and 20 typically developing (TD) 4-month-old of simil...
Article
There has been limited study of how the constitutional characteristics of infants with Down syndrome (DS) influence the patterning of their relations with caregivers. To assess natural and perturbed interactions between infants with DS and their mothers, we tested ten 6-month-old infants with DS and 20 typically developing (TD) 4-month-old of simil...
Article
In this paper, we elaborate a theoretical position and report an empirical study on a specific form of interpersonal engagement: the propensity to identify with the subjective orientation of another person. On the basis of a hypothesis that individuals with autism have a relative lack of this form of intersubjective connectedness (Hobson, 1993, 200...
Article
Does autism involve a deficit in intersubjective engagement with other persons? We studied nonverbal communication in children and adolescents with and without autism (n = 12 per group), group-matched for chronological age and verbal mental age, during 3 min of a videotaped interview. In keeping with previous studies, there were only subtle but pot...
Article
My aim in this paper is to consider what it means to engage and communicate with another person. I do so by adopting the approach of developmental psychopathology, and compare and contrast the structure of communication that is manifest by typically developing infants on the one hand, and by children and adolescents with autism on the other. I high...
Article
We studied the association between an adult's behavior and episodes of social engagement (ESEs) in young children with autism during play-based assessment. ESEs were defined as events in which a child looked toward the adult's face and simultaneously showed an additional form of communicative behavior. The adult's behavior before each ESE, and befo...
Article
The aim of this study was to determine whether women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are more likely than those with dysthymia to manifest contradictory Hostile-Helpless (HH) states of mind. A reliable rater blind to diagnosis evaluated features of such mental representations in transcripts of Adult Attachment Interviews from 12 women wi...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we outline our hypothesis that human intersubjective engagement entails identifying with other people. We tested a prediction derived from this hypothesis that concerned the relation between a component of joint attention and a specific form of imitation. The empirical investigation involved "blind" ratings of videotapes from a recent...
Chapter
Elsewhere in this volume one can find telling critiques of contemporary accounts of the nature and scope of interpersonal understanding. Therefore, apart from a few unsubtle but I believe important introductory points to provide some initial orientation to my own approach, I shall not attempt to present or analyze views about human beings' knowledg...
Article
There is controversy over the basis for young children's experience of themselves and other people as separate yet related individuals, each with a mental perspective on the world - and over the nature of corresponding deficits in autism. Here we tested a form of self-other connectedness (identification) in children with and without autism, who wer...
Article
Tomasello et al. provide a convincing account of the origins of cultural cognition. I highlight how emotionally grounded sharing of experiences (not merely or predominantly intentions) is critical for the development of interpersonal understanding and perspective-sensitive thinking. Such sharing is specifically human in quality as well as motivatio...
Article
The aim of this paper is to address a matter that has been noted, but not adequately confronted, in the psychotherapy research literature--that different psychoanalytic psychotherapists mean very different things by the expression transference interpretations. We explore the matter in three ways: firstly, by providing a brief overview of clinical p...
Article
This chapter argues that joint attention needs to be understood in terms of one person's engagement with another person's engagement with the world. It is pivotal from a developmental perspective that we have an appropriate view of what is involved when we share experiences, or when we perceive and align with another person's 'attention' as a bodil...
Article
There is controversy over the existence and nature of blind children's limitations in symbolic play. In this study we tested 13 5- to 9-year-old congenitally blind children for the ability to symbolize when an adult provided scaffolding for their play. The blind children were selected on the basis that they did not have the syndrome of autism, and...
Article
The principal aim of this study was to assess personal relatedness and attachment patterns in 12-month-old infants of mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD). We also evaluated maternal intrusive insensitivity toward the infants in semistructured play. We videotaped 10 mother-infant dyads with borderline mothers and 22 dyads where the mo...
Article
With the aim of studying foundations for self-other relations and understanding, we conducted an experimental investigation of a specific aspect of imitation in children with autism: the propensity to copy self-other orientation. We hypothesised that children with autism would show limitations in identifying with the stance of another person. We te...
Article
The aim of this study was to examine whether a mother's sensitivity towards her one-year-old infant is related to the infant's propensity to engage in 'triadic' relations--that is, to orientate to an adult's engagement with objects and events in the world, for example in sharing experiences with an adult. In order to determine that any effects were...
Article
Background and method: The aim of this study was to examine whether a mother's sensitivity towards her one-year-old infant is related to the infant's propensity to engage in 'triadic' relations - that is, to orientate to an adult's engagement with objects and events in the world, for example in sharing experiences with an adult. In order to determi...
Article
Interpersonal understanding is rooted in social engagement. The question is: How? What features of intersubjective coordination are essential for the growth of concepts about the mind, and how does development proceed on this basis? Carpendale & Lewis (C&L) offer many telling insights, but their account begs questions about the earliest forms of se...
Article
There is evidence that psychopathology in mothers may be associated with dysfunctional mother-infant interactions. To investigate mother-infant relations when mothers have borderline personality disorder. Eight mothers with borderline personality disorder and twelve mothers without psychiatric disorder were videotaped interacting with their 2-month...
Article
There is substantial heterogeneity in the aetiology and clinical presentation of autism. So how do we account for homogeneity in the syndrome? The answer to this question will be critical for any attempt to trace the links between brain pathology and the psychological disabilities that characterize autism. One possibility is that the source of homo...
Article
Full-text available
Infants and young children with Down syndrome can be engaging and affectionate. It seems that in the early months of life their personal relations may be relatively 'spared' the effects of limitations in their capacities for information-processing. Yet how far is this the case as development proceeds? In this paper we discuss some ways in which soc...
Article
Congenitally blind children face profound difficulties in relating to people and things in the world around them. In this article we report observations of children in the Blind Nursery of the Anna Freud Centre (at that time named the Hampstead Child Therapy Centre) deemed to be congenitally blind, during the 1950s and 1960s. These observations hig...
Article
The purpose of this study was to identify the specific aspects of social engagement that distinguish infants with autism from infants of similar age and developmental level who do not have autism. Ten parents of preschoolers with autism and 10 parents of matched children without autism were given a semistructured interview, the Detection of Autism...
Article
This study was designed to test the prediction that adolescents with autism would have specific limitations in imitating the "style" of another person's actions. In a series of original tasks that tested the delayed imitation of novel nonsymbolic actions, 16 participants with autism and 16 nonautistic participants group-matched for age and verbal a...
Article
From a sample of middle-class mothers and their 3-year-old children, a selected group of 36 mothers were divided into 2 groups according to the quality of their responses to the Adult Attachment Interview as a Questionnaire (Crandell, Fitzgerald, & Whipple, 1997). Twenty mothers provided coherent accounts of their early parent-child relationships (...
Article
The nature of autism in congenitally blind children has long been a source of interest and perplexity. A group of nine congenitally blind children with an autism-like syndrome were closely matched on chronological age and verbal mental age with nine sighted autistic children, and were compared on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (Schopler, Reichle...
Article
This study employed the self-understanding interview of Damon and Hart (1988) to assess the self-concepts of two groups of children and adolescents: a group of individuals with autism and a group of nonautistic mentally retarded individuals who were matched for age and for verbal ability. On the basis of an hypothesis concerning the interpersonal o...
Article
There is widespread scepticism concerning the reliability and validity psychoanalytic judgements of patient-therapist transactions. We predicted that (a) in reviewing the initial part of 14 videotaped assessment interviews with borderline and dysthymic subjects, dynamic psychotherapists would agree in their ratings of psychoanalytically relevant ch...
Article
On theoretical grounds, Hobson (1990) suggested that lack of vision might delay the emergence of so-called ‘theory of mind’ in congenitally blind children. This prediction was tested using tactile versions of theory of mind tasks devised by Perner, Leekam & Wimmer (1987) and Wimmer & Perner (1983). Twenty-one visually impaired children were group m...
Article
We videotaped 24 children, adolescents, and young adults with autism, individually matched for chronological age and verbal mental age with 24 nonautistic persons with mental retardation, for their spontaneous and prompted greetings and farewells towards an unfamiliar adult. Compared with control subjects, those with autism were less likely to offe...
Article
This study is an attempt to analyse whether there may be separable components to the human ability to perceive people aspeople who engage in actions and who have attitudes. We adopted the approach of developmental psychopathology. Matched groups of typically developing, autistic and non-autistic retarded (MR) children and adolescents were tested fo...
Article
Twenty-four congenitally blind children between 3 and 9 years of age were studied for the prevalence of "autistic-like" features, as assessed by teacher reports and by systematic observations of the children's behaviour. A comparison between the 15 blind children who had IQs over 70 and 10 sighted children group-matched for age and verbal ability r...
Article
A wide range of psychological processes have been analyzed in terms of the mind's representational and central processing capacities. For example, personperception is supposed to entail that an individual infers meanings from the perception of bodily and facial cues. An alternative account is that certain basic forms of perceptual processing may no...
Article
The nature of autistic individuals' abnormalities in the use of personal pronouns has been a topic of considerable speculation but little systematic investigation. We tested groups of CA- and verbal MA-matched autistic and nonautistic mentally retarded children and young adults on a series of tasks that involved the comprehension and use of the per...
Article
The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the origins of social understanding. Drawing upon philosophical writings, I highlight those features of affectively patterned interpersonal relations that are especially important for a very young child's growing awareness and knowledge of itself and other people as people with their own minds. If we were...
Chapter
What does it mean to perceive, relate to, know about, even be a “person”? Time and again since Kanner’s (1943) original paper on autistic disturbances of affective contact, children with autism have been described as treating others as if they were things more like pieces of furniture than sentient human beings. We are led to ask: What is so specia...
Article
The purpose of this paper is to consider problems that arise in designing and interpreting experimental investigations of autistic children's capacities for perceiving and understanding emotion, and to offer a review of published studies. Attention is drawn to some strengths and limitations of the experimental approach in this domain.
Article
This article examines what it means to have a self. My focus is on the essential components of self-experience, the kind of psychological architecture required to construct a self, rather than on the configurations or qualities of individual “selves.” I adopt a developmental perspective and indicate how early childhood autism may afford unique insi...
Article
Leslie (1987) has proposed a cognitivist model for the young child's "theory of mind" and capacity to pretend. Serious shortcomings in Leslie's nondevelopmental, nonsocial, and restrictively cognitive account are noted, and an alternative thesis is proposed: A young child's knowledge about people is grounded in the experience of affectively charged...
Article
Autistic and nonautistic retarded adolescents and young adults, individually matched for chronological age and performance on the British Picture Vocabulary Scale (BPVS; Dunn, Dunn, & Whetton, 1982), were compared on those items of the BPVS that independent raters judged (a) emotion-related and (b) highly abstract. Compared to control subjects, aut...
Article
Mundy and Sigman (1989) note that a problem arises in reconciling the existence of joint-attention deficits in autism with Leslie's (1987) theory that autistic children lack an innate, late-appearing metarepresentational capacity. Such a theory fails to encompass earlier rooted and perhaps more basic manifestations of autistic children's impairment...
Article
This selection of contemporary research provides up-to-date perspectives from leading investigators who are at the cutting edge of studies in autism spectrum disorders. The book allows readers to grasp new approaches to understanding the autism spectrum. Key areas of theory and research are covered, from classification and diagnosis, genetics, neur...

Citations

... While we did not directly measure parental personality pathology, there is theoretical and empirical support suggesting that interpersonal problems on the IPC aligns with severity of personality dysfunction as defined by the alternative model of personality disorders (AMPD; [28,75]). Our results provide important new contributions to the literature on parents with personality disorders, which has focused primarily on borderline personality disorder (BPD) and has found that maternal BPD is associated with disrupted attachment in offspring [23,24,35,36]. However, these studies relied on categorical DSM-5 Section II approaches to measuring personality pathology. ...
... These syndromes Among the primary syndromes which manifest PLI, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and specific language impairment (SLI) must be highlighted (Gibson et al., 2013). Extensive research has been conducted on the comorbidity of PLI and autism (Wenche Andersen Helland & Helland, 2017a;Larkin et al., 2017a;Miller et al., 2015). Therefore, researchers have opted to use PLI as an indicator of either ASD or SLI Chuthapisith et al., 2014;Freed et al., 2011Freed et al., , 2012Gibson et al., 2013;Mieke Pauline Ketelaars et al., 2012;Lam & Yeung, 2012;Reisinger et al., 2011a). ...
... Furthermore, joint attention, which is observed before fully developed social-cognitive awareness (Brooks & Meltzoff, 2005), can predict future linguistic ability (Morales et al., 2000;. Additionally, maternal sensitivity (Hobson et al., 2004) and synchronicity (Carpenter et al., 1998) have found to correlate with infants' propensity to engage in social interactions and language development respectively. ...
... Social communication impairment (SCI) is one of the primary symptoms and diagnostic criteria for autism. According to Rutter and Lockyer (1967), Schuler and Prizant (1985), Leslie (1987), andTager-Flusberg (1993), children with ASD have significant social cognitive impairment; Kanner (1943), Hobson (1992), Kasari et al. (1993), andLoveland et al. (1994) found that children with ASD have social-emotional disorders. Social cognitive impairment, socioemotional impairment, and lack of social skills result in children with ASD having severe problems in social interaction, as evidenced by a lack of social gaze, lack of attachment to family members, and inability to form relationships with peers. ...
... The only language of scientific description that researchers on child development have at their disposal is one in which 'self' and 'other' do refer to distinct entities. So, for example, in reflecting upon three studies involving children and adolescents with autism, Hobson and Hobson (2008) suggest that the intersubjective dimension of social relatedness acquires its structure "in virtue of human beings' propensity to identify with others' attitudes" (p. 67). ...
... For example, young children with autism lack the affiliative connections with others that are necessary for responding to normative social experiences. Correspondingly, they rarely are empathic and rarely behave prosocially (23,24); indeed, an early marker of autism is failure to share toys with parents (25). Without strong affiliative tendencies, prosociality fails to take root. ...
... One of the strengths of the present study is that it fills a major data gap by providing data on the effect of phthalates on ASD symptoms and quantitative data on exposure in this vulnerable population. Second, our study had a relatively large sample size compared to other similar studies (Hobson et al. 2016;Tzischinsky et al. 2018). In addition, two complementary and standardized instruments were used to evaluate children with ASD to identify and describe the severity of their symptoms (Eaves and Milner 1993). ...
... Deficit in the social field could also be derived from a lack in the sense of relatedness with others (Hobson & Hobson, 2009). ...
... It is well-recognised that autism is a highly heterogenous condition (Martinez-Murcia et al., 2017;Mottron & Bzdok, 2020), and this heterogeneity is particularly apparent in socioemotional functioning (emotion recognition and emotional reciprocity). Despite assertions that socioemotional difficulties are a 'hallmark' of autism (Du Bois et al., 2014;Guastella et al., 2010), these claims are often based on indirect evidence-such as impaired theory of mind or a claimed lack of prosocial behaviour-thought to rely on emotion recognition and affect-sharing (Ben Shalom, Belmonte, Gaigg, Bowler, 2021;Stolier et al., 2020). Despite the widespread acceptance of this view, direct studies of socioemotional processing in autism have produced highly mixed findings-for a review see Cuve et al. (2018) or Uljarevic and Hamilton (2013)-suggesting that socioemotional impairments are far from universal in autism. ...
... Potential developmental problems observed in the ToM understanding have been observed especially in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or developmental delays (Baron-Cohen, 2000). In some ToM studies, researchers also reported that children with visual impairments received lower scores than their sighted peers (Begeer et al., 2014;Green et al., 2004;Hobson, 1990;McAlpine & Moore, 1995;Minter et al., 1998;Recchia, 1997;Roch-Levecq, 2006). On the other hand, some researchers reported that children with visual impairments and sighted children had similar scores on ToM tasks (Anghel, 2012; Bartoli et al., 2019;Baştug, 2016;Isitan & Ozdemir, 2018;Pijnacker et al., 2012). ...