Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science




McRae, Ken

2nd Supervisor

Stevenson, Ryan A.



Event knowledge, a person’s understanding of patterns of activities in the world, is crucial for everyday social interactions. Atypical event knowledge could contribute to social communication problems, which are prominent in autism spectrum disorder. Previous research has found atypical event knowledge in autistic individuals; however, research is minimal. In two studies, the relationship between event knowledge and autistic traits, namely social abilities, was investigated. I predicted associations between atypical event knowledge and poorer social abilities. In Study 1, lower social ability correlated with more atypical ordering of event activities. In Study 2, for atypical activity ordering, a relationship was found between social ability and the social nature of events. No significant results were found for other measures of event knowledge. These findings suggest a relationship exists between autistic traits, namely social abilities, and event activity ordering, but does not exist for other areas of event knowledge in the general population.

Summary for Lay Audience

People know about different patterns of activities in the world around them, called events. Knowledge of events helps us talk with and understand other people. Autistic people have problems with social communication. This could be because they have odd knowledge of events. I found that when people with worse social skills put activities in the order of how they would do them, their ordering was less common than people with better social skills. Also, I found that their ordering changed because of how much social behaviour is part of an event. However, people with worse social skills did not say more activities overall, or say less important activities, than people with better social skills. This means people with worse social skills order activities in a less common way, but otherwise do not show odd knowledge of events.