User:Tepples/Allism test

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The Sally–Anne Test is a short play by Simon Baron-Cohen, cousin of the Borat star, used to test children for autism by measuring their over-reliance on audience awareness advantage. It has been produced in small settings with dolls and in larger settings with live actresses.

Its plot is as follows: Sally meets Anne. Sally is carrying a marble in a basket. She removes the marble, shows it to Anne, and puts it back.* Sally leaves the room and leaves her basket behind.* While Sally isn't looking, Anne removes the marble from the basket and puts it in Anne's box.*

The candidate is asked these questions during the performance:

  1. Which one is Sally?
  2. Which one is Anne?
  3. At each * point, where is the marble?
  4. And once Sally comes back from "powdering her nose", where will she look for the marble?

The first questions are control questions to ensure that the candidate understands the events. The final question tests whether the candidate is using a theory of mind. The response "in her basket" shows that the candidate understands dramatic irony: based on events that Sally has seen, Sally believes that the marble stays put if not moved. Chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans have been seen to give the "successful" response.[1] "In Anne's box", on the other hand, implies that the candidate makes no attempt to distinguish Sally's beliefs from reality. Most children under age four and most autistic children give the latter response, but not all.[2]

This test of theory of mind is not perfect. It carries a tacit assumption about the nature of the relationship between the characters.[3] It also reinforces the conventional wisdom that thought processes associated with (at least high-functioning) autism are somehow "wrong", a misconception that the autism rights movement has been fighting.

The changes

We suggest a slight change to the test to allow it to distinguish two additional conditions: allism, or thought patterns that are the polar opposite of autism,[4] and lookism, or prejudice based on people's appearance. We can call this The Bidge–Mel Test. This is presented as an animated cartoon on a TV or computer screen.

As the first change, we introduce a confounding factor that the two characters are girls with no legs who walk on their hands and bottom, which allows lookism to surface as ableism, or prejudice against people with disabilities.

  • Bidge is a girl with straight brown hair and bangs who wears a hooded cape and carries some random toy in a basket clipped onto her belt. (Modeled on Little Red Riding Hood.)
  • Mel is a girl with curly blonde hair who wears a frilly sky blue dress and hair ribbon and, unbeknownst to the candidate, has a habit of petty burglary. (Modeled on Goldilocks, the villain protagonist of "The Three Bears".)

Careful: These color assignments are opposite those presented on Educate Autism.[2]

Bidge and Mel act out the same scene as before, and the same questions are asked (with the names changed). The second change is an additional free-response question after the question "Where will Bidge look?", namely "Why? How do you know this?". Several responses are possible:

Bidge will look in the box because that's where it is. (Lacking theory of mind.)
Bidge will look in her basket because that's where she left it. (The candidate puts himself in Bidge's place. Because the candidate has no relationship with Mel, he assumes Bidge has none either, and he falls back to the assumption that things shall be left as found.)
That girl has no feet. Where is her wheelchair? (The candidate is sufficiently distracted by the characters' appearance to start judging it rather than their minds.)
Bidge will look in the box because the dumb blonde stole it. (Likewise.)
I couldn't tell, because I don't know if there's something going on between the girls.[3]
Bidge will look in the box because she saw Mel taking it out through the doorway/window.
Bidge will look in the box because she knows Mel likes to take things. She stole those bears' porridge, didn't she? (identifying Mel with Goldilocks)
Bidge will look in her basket because it belongs to Mel and Bidge wants to make sure Mel isn't forgetting it.

Because the final question is free response with multiple acceptable answers not of any particular form, this test must be administered with a human proctor. Making it completely automated would require making these questions multiple choice, which could unduly influence the candidate's response. A multiple choice test would also remove an opportunity to diagnose lookism during the control questions. So before you go producing this test as a web animation or homebrew ROM, feel free to describe ways to score this final question on the talk page.


Conceptual sketch of Bidge with her basket clipped on her belt

A spec script for this test is under development.

Because younger children may be unfamiliar with transition conventions of Western cinema, rapid cuts and pacing may interfere with understanding of the video's action.[5][6] So when revising this as a shooting script, aim for relatively long takes with slow cuts.

It can be presented in a test setting, or it can be presented in the ordinary entertainment setting as a parody of psychological tests and televised edutainment for preschoolers in general. The one-act play could also serve as a prequel to variants of "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", up to Bidge using Mel using bears for revenge against wolf.

It shows the beginning of Bidge's habit of giving excuses to walk out on people. This habit would later serve her well when assaulted by a Volci creep with her grandmother's fashion sense and she asks to leave so as not to wet the bed.[7]

We may use Dave McElfatrick's justification of why Bidge confuses Volci facial features with signs of aging in near-human races.[8] Like East Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans,[9] dogs generally avoid direct eye contact.[10] Remember this when animating the wolf.

  • Where is Nonna? (in the closet)
  • Where will Bidge look for Nonna? (in bed)
  • Where is Bidge? (outside)
  • Where will the perv look for Bidge? (in the bathroom)

It also sort of ambiguously sets up Mel as an unsupervised crypto-delinquent, leading her to burglarize a family of talking bears and get them on her bad side Because bears know what you did last summer,[11] I'll have to figure out how to justify mercy toward Mel.

  • Where is Cubby's porridge? (in Mel)
  • Where will Cubby look for his porridge? (on the table)

Later they track down where the creep lives, just as the creep had tracked down one of Bidge's relatives, and Mel leads the bears to break into the creep's house thinking it's hers.[12] Either that or Bidge misdirecting the wolf to the bears' house at a fork in the trail through the woods,[13] with consequences that may momentarily implicate Mel.[14]

  • Where does Mel live?
  • Where will the bears look for Mel?


  1. "Apes share cognitive ability of humans' to recognise perspective of others". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 2016-10-07. Accessed 2016-11-09.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gavin Cosgrave & Lasairíona McGuinness. "Sally Anne Test". Educate Autism. Accessed 2016-02-18.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Field Notes on Allistics: Self-Direction vs. Self-Absorption". Field Notes on Allistics, 2014-04-07. Accessed 2017-10-12.
  4. Andrew Main (Zefram). "Allism: An Introduction to a Little-known Condition". 2003-01-30. Accessed 2015-06-13.
  5. Angeline S. Lillard, Jennifer Peterson. "The Immediate Impact of Different Types of Television on Young Children's Executive Function". Pediatrics, 2011-09-12. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-1919. Cited in "Study: Fast-Paced Cartoons No Good For Kids' Brains — Sorry SpongeBob". Deadline, 2011-09-12. Accessed 2016-03-11.
  6. Celia Andreu-Sánchez, Miguel Ángel Martín-Pascual, Agnès Gruart, José María Delgado-García. "Chaotic and Fast Audiovisuals Increase Attentional Scope but Decrease Conscious Processing". Neuroscience, 2018; 394: 83 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2018.10.025. Via Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. "Dynamic audiovisuals increase spectator attention, but inhibits conscious processing". ScienceDaily, 2018-11-12. Accessed 2018-11-19.
  7. The escape scene is taken from "The Story of Grandmother"-type variants of ATU 333, which are more basal than the Grimm variant that incorporates elements of "The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids". Jamshid J. Tehrani. "The Phylogeny of Little Red Riding Hood". PLOS ONE, 2013-11-03. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078871. Accessed 2016-02-17.
  8. Dave McElfatrick. "What a big nose you have, Grandma". Cyanide & Happiness
  9. Lahle Wolfe. "Business and Social Etiquette - How to Make Eye Contact". About Money, 2014-12-21. Accessed 2016-05-07.
  10. AuntieMeme. "25 Easy Ways You Can Read Your Pet's Mind". Cracked, 2016-05-07. Accessed 2016-05-07.
  11. Felix Clay. "8 Real Life Horror Monsters Walking The Earth Right Now". Cracked, 2016-04-11. Accessed 2016-04-11.
  12. Inspired by Alan MacDonald and Gwyneth Williamson. Beware of the Bears! Little Tiger Press, 1998. Reprinted in My Little Bear: A Treasury of Bear Tales. Little Tiger Press, 2007. ISBN 9781845066451.
  13. HISHE Kids. "Fixed Fairy Tales: Volume One". 2015-10-14. Accessed 2016-05-28.
  14. Super Why! episode "Goldilocks and the Three Bears: The Mystery"

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