General figure and face-specific closure ability: predictors of trait-autism?

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Little research has examined the association between general figure closure speed, a stratum I ability within the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) model of intelligence, and face-specific closure ability; an important consideration, as some research suggests face processing is independent of other abilities. Additionally, figure closure ability (general and face) may correlate negatively with trait-autism, due to theorised autism-related difficulties in global processing. Therefore, in addition to developing a psychometrically robust short-form Mooney face detection task, we administered the Gestalt Figure Completion Test and the Autism Spectrum Quotient to a sample of 263 general community adults. We found convergent validity between face-specific and general figure closure ability (r = .44, 95%CI:[.30, .58]). Furthermore, based on a latent variable model, general figure closure ability was directly, and face-specific figure closure ability indirectly, negatively associated with trait-autism (i.e., nonverbal communication). We conclude that face detection ability evidences convergent validity with general figure closure ability and can be measured reliably in less than four minutes. Finally, a general, rather than face-specific, figure closure process may tap more directly into autism-like nonverbal communication ability, supporting the notion that global processing abilities of non-face objects may better reflect the requirements to ‘fill in the gaps’ in social contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2023


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