ASL Perspective Taking Comprehension Test

The American Sign Language Perspective Taking Comprehension Test (ASL-PTCT) was developed to assess perspective-taking skills with respect to the comprehension of classifiers within topographical space.  In particular, it examines a test-taker’s ability to comprehend classifiers that are arranged and orientated in specific ways while also managing shifts of perspective that are required for choosing correct responses.  The ASL-PTCT has been used in a single case study investigating linguistic and visual-spatial processing in a deaf signing adolescent (Quinto-Pozos et al., 2013) and for a study investigating visual-spatial cognition in deaf signing children and adolescents (N=94) 7 to 20 years old (Quinto-Pozos & Hou, 2013).


As noted, the ASL-PTCP aims to test “perspective taking skills with respect to the comprehension of classifiers” (Quinto-Pozos et al., 2013, p. 341). The classifiers are arranged and oriented in particular ways in topographic space.

Figure 1: Example of alternative choices for test participant (top right is correct) (© Quinto-Pozos et al., 2013)

The ASL-PTCP consists of 20 signed phrases that are presented on a laptop to the test taker. Each item represents two classifiers (e.g., a car, a dog, a woman) that are arranged in a specific ways (e.g., which object is on the right/left; both objects are facing the same direction) and with a specific orientation (i.e., whether one of the objects has fallen inward/outward in reference to the upright object). Quinto-Pozos and colleagues (2013) state that the "use of signing space and classifiers for the test items aligns with the topographic function of the signing space” (p. 342). 


The test taker is encouraged to watch each item and then choose the appropriate picture from a choice of four. Each picture represents a different spatial arrangement and orientation of the objects (as occurred in the stimuli) in signing space. Both the accuracy of the response and the response time are measured.  The goal is that the test taker can imagine the arrangement and orientation of the two objects from different perspectives. The test consists of five blocks of four items. Each block of items represents different shifts of perspective that the test taker needs to make in order to select the correct picture. The first block of items represents items that require no perspective shift for the test taker (i.e., the correct answer is the picture depicting the orientation and arrangement of the objects from the viewer’s perspective). The items in the remaining blocks require a shift of perspective from the test taker of 45-180 degrees left- or rightward. The distractors have similar perspective shifts, but the orientation and arrangement of the objects do not match the signed stimuli.


The signer of the test is shown from two different camera angles: opposite the test taker (i.e., test taker facing the signer) and side-by-side perspective which is about 45 degrees to the right of the test taker (i.e., as if the signer and test taker were standing side by side). The rationale for showing the signer from two different camera angles was to “determine whether a viewer would have less difficulty choosing a corresponding picture if she is situated beside the signer and would not have to make a substantial perspective shift to comprehend the stimuli” (p. 343). Half the sentences are presented from one angle, and half from the other. For the 10 items where the signer is opposite the test taker, one of the distractors depicts an “egocentric perspective”. That means that the arrangement of the objects is incorrect, but that it matches exactly what “the viewer has seen from her own perspective” (p. 343) - without the “required” 180 degree mental rotation that would be required to solve the task.

Figure 2: Opposite perspective (180°, left) and side-by-side perspective (45°, right) (© Quinto-Pozos et al., 2013)

The ASL PTCT has also been administered to native signers of ASL, between 11 and 21 years old (N=15) (Quinto-Pozos et al, 2013) and to 94 deaf adolescents between 8 and 20 years old, 12 of whom were deaf native signers (Quinto-Pozos & Hou, 2012). The test is administered by a trained ASL specialist.


Data from children and adults continue to be in order to chart developmental norms for the task.  To the present, the test has been administered to more than 200 individuals, including deaf children, deaf adults, and hearing learners of ASL (D. Quinto-Pozos, personal communication, January 21, 2015).


Strength: perspective-taking, as it co-occurs with linguistic skills.


Weaknesses: no reported evidence on validity and reliability.



Summarized by Tobias Haug, in cooperation with David Quinto-Pozos (2015).