A novel task assessing intention and emotion attribution: Italian standardization and normative data of the Story-based Empathy Task

Alessandra Dodich, Chiara Cerami, Nicola Canessa, Chiara Crespi, Sandro Iannaccone, Alessandra Marcone, Sabrina Realmuto, Giada Lettieri, Daniela Perani, Stefano F. Cappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Theory of Mind (ToM), the process by which an individual imputes mental states to himself and others, is presently considered as a multidimensional cognitive domain, with two main facets (i.e., cognitive and affective ToM) accounting, respectively, for the ability to understand others’ intention (intention attribution-IA) and emotions (emotion attribution-EA). Despite the large amount of literature investigating the behavioural and neural bases of mentalizing abilities in neurological conditions, there is still a lack of validated neuropsychological tools specifically designed to assess such skills. Here, we report the normative data of the Story-Based Empathy Task (SET), a non-verbal test developed for the assessment of intention and emotion attribution in the neurodegenerative conditions characterized by the impairment of social–emotional abilities. It is an easy-to-administer task including 18 stimuli, sub-grouped into two experimental conditions assessing, respectively, the ability to infer others’ intentions (SET-IA) and emotions (SET-EA), compared to a control condition of causal inference (SET-CI). Normative data were collected in 136 Italian subjects pooled across subgroups homogenous for age (range 20–79 years), sex, and education (at least 5 years). The results show a detrimental effect of age and a beneficial effect of education on both the global score and each subscale, for which we provide correction grids. This new task could be a useful tool to investigate both affective and cognitive aspects of ToM in the course of disorders of socio-emotional behaviour, such as the fronto-temporal dementia spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1907-1912
Number of pages6
JournalNeurological Sciences
Volume36
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 14 2015

Keywords

  • Affective ToM
  • Cognitive ToM
  • Empathy
  • Italian standardization
  • Mentalizing
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A novel task assessing intention and emotion attribution: Italian standardization and normative data of the Story-based Empathy Task'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this