Does Theory of Mind Training Enhance Empathy in Autism?

Annaleena Holopainen, Daniëlle M.J. de Veld, Elske Hoddenbach, Sander Begeer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Youth with ASD often show limited or atypical empathic responsiveness. The direct effects of social skills interventions on enhancing empathic responsiveness is unknown. Data from a randomized controlled trial were used to investigate whether a Theory of Mind training improves the empathic responsiveness, measured through structured observations. The current study included a large sample (n = 135) of 8–13-year-old children with ASD. When comparing the change scores of empathic responsiveness from baseline to post-test, the intervention group performed significantly better than the waitlist group. Thus, the current findings support the use of Theory of Mind training as intervention of ASD by showing its efficacy also in improving one’s empathic responsiveness, in addition to previous knowledge regarding the improvements in empathic understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3965-3972
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number10
Early online date3 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


Funded by ZonMW (the Netherlands) Grant Number 70-72900-98-14050. Thanks to the participating children, parents and clinicians, at The Bascule, Duivendrecht, The Netherlands.

FundersFunder number


    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Empathic responsiveness
    • Intervention
    • Randomized controlled trial
    • Theory of mind


    Dive into the research topics of 'Does Theory of Mind Training Enhance Empathy in Autism?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this