Tests of Social Cognition

Clinical and theoretical research into social cognition is expanding rapidly and there are now many different kinds of assessment instruments used. These are designed to test popular facets of social cognition (such as emotion perception, Theory of Mind and empathy) as well as facets that are considered to be more ancillary (such as social behaviour, language and communication, self-awareness) or generally less studied (such as social perception). In the table below are many of the common currently used instruments. If you click on the name, it will take you to a brief description of the measure, what it comprises, how to obtain it, how long it takes to administer and basic psychometric information based on the available literature. 

Face Identity  Benton Face Recognition Test
 Cambridge Face Recognition Tests
Attributional Bias  Ambiguous Intentions Hostility Questionnaire (AIHQ)
 Intentionality Bias Questionnaire (IBT)
Emotion Perception  The Florida Affect Battery
 Cambridge Face Recognition Tasks
 Facial Expression of Emotion: Stimuli and Tests
 The Comprehensive Affect Test System
 Emotion Recognition Test
 The Penn Emotion Recognition Test
 The Bell-Lysaker Emotion Recognition Test
Theory of Mind  Reading the Mind in the Eyes – Revised
 Strange Stories Test
 Faux Pas Recognition Test
 The Hinting Task
 Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition
 The Social Attribution Task
 The Yoni task
Empathy  Interpersonal Reactivity Index
 Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy
 The Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale
 Empathy Quotient
Language and Communication  Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System-II (ABAS-II)
 LaTrobe Communication Questionnaire
 Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals V (CELF-5)
 Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language (CASL)
 Functional Assessment of Verbal Reasoning and Executive Strategies (Student version) FAVRES Student
 Interpersonal Negotiation Strategy (INS)
 Oral and Written Language Scales – Second Edition (OWLS-II)
 Social Language Development Test (SLDT) (Elementary and Adolescent versions
 Test of Integrated Language and Literacy Skills (TILLS)
 The Word Test 3 (TWT-3) for children and TWT-2 (adolescents)
Social Perception  Relationship Across Domains
 So- Moral
Social Behaviour  The Frontal Systems Behaviour Scale (FrSBe)
 Frontal Behaviour Inventory (FBI)
 Overt Behaviour Scale (OBS)
 DysExecutive Questionnaire (DEX)
 The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function- Adult Version (BRIEF-A)
 Social Functioning in Dementia Scale (SF-Dem)
 Social Skills Questionnaire- TBI (SSQ-TBI)
 Behaviour Assessment System for Children –3(BASC-3)
Self-Awareness  Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS)
 Awareness Questionnaire(AQ)
 Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory: 4 (MPAI-4)
 The Patient Competency Rating Scale (PCRS)
 Self-Awareness of Deficits Interview (SADI)
Omnibus Tests  ACS Social Cognition
 Brief Assessment of Social Skills
 NEPSY Social Cognition Battery
 The Pediatric Evaluation of Emotions Relationships and Socialization (PEERS®)
 Social and Emotional Assessment (SEA and miniSEA)
 The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT)
 The Awareness of Social Inference Test- Short (TASIT-S)


The Awareness of Social Inference Test: TASIT and TASIT-S

McDonald, S, Flanagan, S. & Rollins, J. (2017) The Awareness of Social Inference Test (3rd Edition) ASSBI Resources, Sydney, Australia. ISBN 978-0-6481461-0-0

Many clinical conditions including acquired brain injury, frontotemporal dementia, developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, psychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia lead to impairment in social cognition, that is the ability to identify emotional expressions in others, to understand the intentions and thoughts of others and to understand the implications behind indirect language (such as sarcasm). These problems are disabling and a major target for remediation. TASIT was designed to provide a systematic assessment of these difficulties using naturalistic video vignettes employing professional actors in everyday exchanges. TASIT has three parts examining the ability to recognise basic emotions (Part 1) the ability to discern whether someone is being sincere or sarcastic (Part 2) and the ability to determine whether someone is lying or being sarcastic (Part 3). In parts 2 and 3 it is also possible to assess how well the participant can read the feelings, thoughts and intentions of the speakers. Administration time for Parts 1-3 is approximately 60 minutes. The assessment of social cognitive ability is completed by calculating a range of scores that are easily summated on the summary response sheets.

TASIT is one of very few tests of social cognition available with normative data. It has norms for around 400 adults. Form A of TASIT has data for adults ranging from 16 to 75+years of age while Form B has data for 16 to 40 years. It is also suitable for assessing social cognition in adolescents with normative data of around 650 adolescents aged from 13-15.

To purchase:

TASIT-S is a short form, in which Parts 1-3 take approximately 20 minutes. TASIT-S has normative data for around 620 Australian speakers (aged 13 to 75+) and 180 adults from the USA. Differences in scores between Australian and USA speakers are minor which suggests TASIT-S is well tolerated by North Americans.

To purchase:

Click here for presentation about TASIT.

The Dice Game

McDonald, S. (1994) The Dice Game: a test of organisational skills in language. Sydney, School of Psychology UNSW

While people with brain damage may have adequate language ability, their capacity to communicate effectively can be impaired, especially as a result of executive dysfunction. The Dice Game is a communication task that provides a systematic assessment of how well one speaker can communicate to another. Click here for manual.

The Austin Maze

The Austin Maze is a spatial learning task that is based upon Milner's earlier work examining maze learning following brain lesions. The Australian version, originally developed for use at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, traditionally comprised a mechanical box with a stepping stone maze and was a popular assessment tool for neuropsychologists although not always easy to make/acquire. This new version is a computer program that is easy to use and the path is easily modified for re-assessment.

The Austin Maze is free to ASSBI members (join. It’s a great idea)


Improving First Impressions: A Step-by-Step Social Skills Program

By Skye McDonald, Cristina Bornhofen, Leanne Togher, Sharon Flanagan, Paul Gertler and Rebecca Bowen

This manual provides detailed program notes and handouts for 12 sessions that address training of basic areas of social skills. The manual represents the cumulative efforts of a number of psychologists and speech pathologists working with people with severe traumatic brain injuries over 15 years. Although developed specifically for people with severe traumatic brain injuries, the techniques are generic, arising from a vast social skills literature. This manual is, however, specifically tailored for people with cognitive impairments, especially difficulties with new learning and executive control. Consequently, the manual encompasses a great deal of repetition and structure in order to maximise learning and minimise reliance upon complex cognitive strategies. Because of this, the manual has wider applications for people with any kind of clinical condition that results in cognitive impairment, including mild intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, schizophrenia, autism and Aspergers syndrome.

To purchase

Reading a Smile (and Other Great Expressions): An Emotion Perception Treatment Program

By Bornhofen and McDonald

"Reading a Smile (and Other Great Expressions): An Emotion Perception Treatment Program" is a treatment kit designed to address emotion perception deficits. Originally designed for rehabilitation of people with traumatic brain injuries, the program has proven evidence for efficacy. The kit is also suitable for a range of clinical conditions including developmental conditions (such as Aspergers), psychiatric conditions (e.g. schizophrenia) and other forms of acquired or developmental brain injuries.

The kit provides a rich range of resources including colourful packs of photos of actors portraying emotions, a DVD with audiovisual vignettes of emotions and conversations, and game boards to engage and interact with clients. The kit comes complete with a step by step manual with detailed instructions for 14 therapeutic units and handouts.

To purchase:

TBI – Express: Social communication training for people with TBI and their communication partners

By Togher, McDonald , Tate, Power, Ylvisaker & Rietdijk

This exciting practical resource is designed to provide speech pathologists and other health professionals with a comprehensive resource to improve the conversational skills of communication partners of people with TBI, and also to provide conversational skills training for people with TBI directly to improve everyday communication skills. Thus it entails two separate programs that are described in detail in a manual and CD.

The program for Everyday Communication Partners (ECP) comprises seven modules over 10 sessions. Each module is divided into pre-session preparation (aims, resources to bring, what to do before, during and after the session), and appendices including participant and home work handouts).

The program for people with TBI who attend treatment without a communication partner also comprises seven modules over 10 sessions. It is also divided into pre-session preparation (aims, resources to bring, what to do before, during and after the session), and appendices (participant and home work handouts).

To purchase


By Rietdijk, R., Power, E., Brunner, M.,m Attard, M., McDonald, S., Tate, R., & Togher, L. (2019)

TBIconneCT is an adaption of TBIExpress developed to make it possible for clinicians to work with their clients using internet or phone resources. TBIconneCT is also available from ASSBI Resources.







A CBT approach for treating social anxiety in adults with traumatic brain injury

By Hodgeson, J., Tate, R., McDonald, S. & Gertler, P. (2014) ASSBI Resources,Sydney

This manual has been empirically tested and shown to be an effective means to provide CBT for social anxiety in people with traumatic brain injury and other forms of brain damage. It uses classic CBT approaches to managing social anxiety that are modified to be simple and effective for people with cognitive impairments. The structured manual details nine, hour-long sessions. The first commences with an introduction to a model of social anxiety, and the development of personal goals followed by seven sessions that work through strategies to manage physical feelings, negative thoughts and other unhelpful behaviours and cognitions with a final review session. The manual provides step-by-step instructions and is supplemented with simple handouts and homework sheets that can be freely copied.

To purchase:

The Carers Way Ahead: Strategies to help families and carers manage challenging behaviour in their person with traumatic brain injury

By Skye McDonald, Emily Trimmer, Jill Newby, Samantha Grant, Paul Gertler and Grahame Simpson (2019) with the support of icare

We have developed a free internet based program to assist families deal with challenging behaviour in people with traumatic brain injuries. If you click the link below it will take you to a series of 7 modules which provide information and strategies for dealing with a number of kinds of challenging behaviour. This program is designed for people with traumatic brain injury, but the principals and advice may similarly apply to all sorts of conditions, including developmental disorders, other forms of acquired brain damage and dementia. CLICK HERE


Database of research studies aimed at remediation after brain impairment

NeuroBITE (formerly PsycBITE) is a joint initiative between Skye McDonald, Robyn Tate (Sydney University) Michael Perdices (Royal North Shore Hospital), Leanne Togher and Anne Moseley (Sydney University). NeuroBITE is a free database that includes all trials that have been published that evaluate treatment for any behavioural, communication, cognitive or psychological disorders arising from any form of acquired brain impairment in children (above the age of 5 years) and adults. There are over 5000 treatment studies listed on NeuroBITE with prospective searches being conducted on a regular basis.

To enter the database click

Ratings of methodological quality for group comparison trials

NeuroBITE also provides a rating for the methodological rigor of each trial using the previously established PEDro scale (Maher, Sherrington, Herbert et al, 2003) for randomised controlled trials (RCT) and non-RCT group comparisons. For a copy of the PEDro-P scale click

Ratings of methodological quality for single subject treatment studies

The Risk of Bias of N of 1 trials rating scale for single case experimental studies (SCED) has also been developed. For further information:

NeuroBITE also provides 200+ summaries of rehabilitation treatments for the psychological consequences of acquired brain injury focusing on 10 types of problem areas (e.g., memory, communication), covering 10 types of neurological conditions (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury) across the lifespan.

The Rehabilitation Summaries provide ready access to evidence-based interventions, and may be an especially useful resource for supervisors and clinicians in situations where they are unfamiliar with the current literature, treat unusual conditions, practice in remote areas, or have limited access to resources. At the outset, it is emphasised that the aim of the rehabilitation summaries is not to replace the original article. Rather, the objective is to provide more detailed and targeted information than is commonly available in a journal abstract in order that the clinician and/or supervisor can quickly grasp the elements of the therapy program, the population with whom it is used, the target behaviours or clinical condition that was treated, efficacy of the therapy and the methodological quality of the trial. It is recommended that when a suitable study that meets the clinician's needs is identified, then the original article should be consulted. .

The Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI)

AASSBI provides continuing education for all interested in brain impairment, from assessment through to remediation and community support. It hosts an annual conference, normally in Australia but sometimes also in New Zealand and Asia. ASSBI also has a series of webinars and workshops throughout the year. It has a journal Brain Impairment, as well as a publishing house for evidence based resources for clinicians: ASSBI Resources. ASSBI is very inclusive of students with an active student arm and many awards for students presenting at ASSBI Conferences. It is a great society to be part of!