Social cognition: Reflective essay

Social cognition
Social cognition

Social cognition

Question 1: various viewpoints and findings observed during literature review

 The social cognitive process is critical especially when an individual is navigating complex social interactions.  The way people perceive or interpret other people’s actions is important. However, most people diagnosed with atypical mental disorders such as autism lack appropriate social cognitive skills.

It has been postulated that people diagnosed with ASD are biased in visual cognition such as body language or facial assessment. This is a challenge among the adolescents because they are in a stage characterized by consolidation of their social self, their identity and understanding their roles in the social world (Loukas et al., 2015).

From the literature review, I identified two contrasting viewpoints about social cognition development in adolescence diagnosed with ASD; theory of mind (ToM) and adolescent’s sensitivity to social rejection (Leekam, 2016). According to the concept of sensitivity to social rejection, the studies stated that the developmental mismatch occurs due to poor regulation of the adolescent’s emotions and accounts for the poor social cognition skills in adolescents diagnosed with ASD. 

On the other hand, ToM argues that individuals are trained to understand other people’s minds, thoughts, intentions and beliefs based on the principles they were taught at the age of 4, and that their social cognition is mainly influenced by their caregivers or parents (Leekam, 2016).

These two viewpoints have been integrated into the literature review and will be used during analysis to determine whether adolescent’s social cognition is determined by the affective theory of mind, sensitivity to social rejection or both. This is because adolescence stage is marked with increased social and emotional sophistication; therefore, the underlying themes that influence social cognition skills should be explored to empower adolescents diagnosed with ASD well-being and behavioral outcomes (Loukas et al., 2015).

Question 2: Thought processes when developing research question

A good research question should be relevant and manageable. Therefore, the research question was developed from issues of intellectual interest raised in practice and literature.  The aspects that I find most interesting in this field are children growth and development. From the literature, it is evident that parenting skills greatly influence the children behaviors (Loukas et al., 2015). In this context, the adolescent stage is marked by distinct changes in their relationship with family, peers and the society. It is a stage when they should be taught on ways to assert autonomous control over their emotions, actions, and decisions.

During this stage, it has been argued that the brain undergoes remodeling process. Whereas substantial research has been conducted on social cognition in autistic children, there is little attention in researching parent’s role in ASD adolescent’s social cognition, and whether support training of the parents and caregivers reinforce positive social cognition skills in ASD adolescents (Leekam, 2016). From this analysis, the knowledge gap was evident which led to the formulation of the research questions;

  1. Does parallel complementary training for parents make them be well informed about their children social and intellectual development? Does it empower them with new viewpoints that help to improve social cognition in their children (autistic adolescents)?

Question 3: Developing research methodology

 After developing the research questions, I evaluated six evidence-based studies to analyze the research method appropriate to this discipline critically. From these articles, I found out that it is important to establish appropriate study sample because excessive sample or too small study sample lack the statistical power that shows the significant effect. The literature review as the primary source that informed by choice and application of the mixed research method. This research method has a clear connection with the research problem as it provides a complete and comprehensive understanding of the research question (Leekam, 2016).

 Moreover, the data collection process is through interviews and questionnaire which are an appropriate approach that facilitates the researcher to develop better and more contexts that have greater construct validity (Loukas et al., 2015). From the literature review, I also learned that the most commonly used data analysis method include chi-square, t-test, and ANOVA, which I have integrated into the proposal’s research methodology. Also, it is important to ensure that the data gathered is accurate. One advantage of mixed research method is that it facilitates triangulation (assessing the same phenomenon using several means of research methods) thereby enhancing the study validity and reliability (Loukas et al., 2015).

Question 4: Innovative part of this research proposal

It is evident that children’s social and cognitive skills development is influenced by their parenting style. Responsive parenting has been explored using various research frameworks such as socio-cultural and attachment; and have been found to have a strong foundation is children’s social and emotional skills (Loukas et al., 2015). In combination with the environment, these aspects shape the child’s social cognition needs including the various range of support required for the child’s learning process. It is these supports that enable the children to be actively engaged in problem-solving, self-regulation and execution of social cognitive skills (Walsh, Creighton, & Rutherford, 2016).

However, the social and emotional stability of parents with children diagnosed with ASD is small. Therefore, their parenting responsiveness is poor and negatively impacts on the child’s social cognition function. The benefits of SCTI-A training is well documented. The study proposes that integrating a parallel complementary training for the parents and caregivers will promote mutual engagement and reciprocate the parent-child interaction. That inturn enables the adolescent to become more active and to develop a trust and bond between the parents and to internalize the trust such that they can generalize the learned behavior to new social cognitive functions/ experiences (Leekam, 2016).


Loukas, K. M., Raymond, L., Perron, A. R., McHarg, L. A., & LaCroix Doe, T. C. (2015). Occupational transformation: Parental influence and social cognition of young adults with autism. Work, 50(3), 457-463.

Leekam, S. (2016). Social cognitive impairment and autism: what are we trying to explain?. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 371(1686), 20150082.

Walsh, J. A., Creighton, S. E., & Rutherford, M. D. (2016). Emotion Perception or Social Cognitive Complexity: What Drives Face Processing Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorder?. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 46(2), 615-623.

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