Attention to Detail Predicts Better Verbal Analogy Performance

Jessica L. IrwinDept. of Psychology, Wayne State University, 5057 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202 USA
Lara L. JonesDept. of Psychology, Wayne State University, 5057 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202 USA
Matthew J. KmiecikDept. of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60660 USA
Nash UnsworthDept. of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403 USA
Robert G. MorrisonDept. of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60660 USA

Abstract

Prior studies have found equivalent or even better performance on Raven’s Progressive Matrices tasks for those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in comparison to normal controls (e.g., Chen, Planche, & Lemonnier, 2010; Mottron, 2009). We investigated the extent to which subscales of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient would predict better performance on a verbal analogy task in a non-clinical sample of young adults. For each analogy stem, (OAK : TREE :: SPOON : ______ ), participants had to choose between the correct answer (SILVERWARE) and one distracter, which was either high (FORK) or low (DRAWER) in salience. Controlling for sex and individual differences in working memory, better attention to detail predicted higher accuracies for the analogies with low but not high salient distracters. Thus, attention to detail facilitates recognizing analogical relations but only when there is not also a need to inhibit the superficial similarity of a high salient distracter.

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