Poor social skills can be a disabling consequence of numerous neurological and psychiatric conditions.
Left untreated, social skills deficits curtail social independence and quality of life.
Conventional social skills programmes focus upon the training of appropriate social responses with less regard being paid to the possibility that poor social behaviour may reflect failure to read social cues accurately.
Many clinical conditions, including TBI, schizophrenia, autism and learning disabilities, cause deficits in social perception.
These include poor understanding of emotional expressions and difficulty integrating the contextual information that is part of normal social encounters. Deficits of this kind will impede understanding of socially conveyed messages.
Understatement, sarcasm, deception, and polite hints are just a few examples of everyday communication that rely upon social context to convey meaning. Social perception deficits are an important target for remediation.
The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT) provides a systematic examination of social perception.
It uses videoed vignettes and standardised response probes based upon recent theoretical accounts of how social cues provide meaning.
TASIT has three sections assessing different components of social perception each of which take 10-15 minutes to view.
It has alternate forms that are statistically equivalent and a normative database of primarily young adults.
The test has proven to be sensitive to social perception deficits in a group with severe traumatic brain injuries
Part 1: The Emotion Evaluation Test
This is designed to assess interpretation of naturalistic emotional displays including facial movement, tone of voice and gestures.
In each form, 28 vignettes of neutral scripts are enacted by professional actors to represent seven basic emotional categories: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Surprise, Happiness and Neutral.
Part 2: Social Inference - Minimal (SI-M)
Emotional demeanor can significantly alter the meaning of social messages. For example, ‘You have been a great help!’ may be said sincerely or in a derisive and sarcastic manner using facial expression and other paralinguistic features to imply the opposite.
A set of scripts are enacted either sincerely or sarcastically, with the ability to understand the meaning of each script being assessed by four standardised probe questions.
Part 3: Social Inference - Enriched (SI-E)
This assesses the ability to use additional contextual cues in assigning conversational meaning.
All vignettes entail scripts in which a speaker is making an assertion that is literally untrue. In eight of these, like Part 2, the speaker is speaking sarcastically, i.e. amplifying the truth.
In the remainder the speaker is attempting to deceive the other by concealing the truth.
In addition to the demeanor of the speaker, there are additional visual or verbal clues that provide information about the speaker’s real intentions. Each vignette is assessed via four questions.