Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Lack of motivation to share intentions: Primary deficit in autism?

Eline Verbeke a1a2a3, Wilfried Peeters a2, Inneke Kerkhof a3, Patricia Bijttebier a1, Jean Steyaert a2 and Johan Wagemans a3
a1 Department of Psychology, Psychodiagnostics and Psychopathology, K. U. Leuven
a2 Faculty of Medicine, Child Psychiatry, U. Z. Leuven (Academic Hospital) and K. U. Leuven
a3 Department of Psychology, Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, K. U. Leuven, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium


We review evidence regarding Tomasello et al.'s proposal that individuals with autism understand intentions but fail socially because of a lack of motivation to share intentions. We argue that they are often motivated to understand others but fail because they lack the perceptual integration skills that are needed to apply their basically intact theory of mind skills in complex social situations.