Faux Pas test: what is it and what is it for?

The human being is a gregarious and sociable being . From family clans and tribes to the increasingly globalized society in which we live today, throughout history we have been building and trying to improve different types of organization systems that allow us to be in contact with others, maintaining increasing number of relationships.

But the contact and the correct understanding of social interactions can be more complex than it seems, and in some cases there may be difficulties in getting yourself in the other’s place or correctly interpreting what is happening.

In this sense, there are different proposals and instruments that allow evaluating the degree of social competence and understanding, in order to detect possible deficits in this regard and contribute to training or treating any difficulties that may exist. One of the instruments that allow this evaluation is the Faux Pas Test, about which we will talk throughout this article .

The Faux-Pas test: overview

The Faux-Pas test is a well-known psychological evaluation instrument, which allows assessing the degree of adaptation and social understanding through the interpretation of social situations .

The test in question has a total of twenty short stories in which some type of social interaction occurs, in ten of which there is some kind of inappropriate, inconsiderate or awkward act on the part of one of the characters towards another or others. It has reduced versions and different adaptations, including one in Spanish: the Test of the Mets of the Leg.

It is an instrument that allows to assess the comprehension capacity, empathy and the existence of a theory of mind in the evaluated subjects. The latter refers to the ability to understand the mental state of another and to attribute the ability to think and have different intentions and emotions than ours.

Developed in 1999 by Baron-Cohen, the Faux-Pas test had the original purpose of evaluating the ability to understand social situations and differentiate between performance in this task among minors ( aged between seven and eleven) with Asperger syndrome. and normotypic minors. However, over the years, its target audience has expanded, with versions for children and adults, and used to assess the capacity for social understanding in different issues.

Thus, in addition to its use to assess social competence in people with autism or Asperger syndrome, it has also been used in a population with behavioral disorders, schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, and even psychopathy , among others. Likewise, it is also used in people with lesions in the frontal lobe and especially in the orbitofrontal, and also in some cases of dementia.

Test administration

Administration of the Faux Pas test is relatively easy . Each of the stories that are part of the test is presented to the subject one by one, reading them and giving them a copy so that they can read and see them for themselves.

After each story has been read, the subject is asked if anyone in it has done or said something inappropriate. In case of answering negatively, two control questions are asked to assess the level of understanding of what happened in the story.

If the answer is positive, you are asked who has done something inappropriate, why or what should have been taken into account, what should have been done or said, if the protagonist of the story has realized why his act it was inappropriate and how the person must have felt.

Each of these questions aims to assess whether the person to whom the test is applied has the capacity to understand the fact that an action is inappropriate or considered clumsy at a certain time (third question), if they can assess the intentionality of the speaker (fourth question), interpret your beliefs and knowledge (fifth question) and whether you are able to be empathetic and understand your emotions (sixth question). After these questions, you will end by asking the same control questions as in the previous case (in this case, the seventh and the eighth).

How to score?

Correcting this test requires analyzing each of the responses that the subject has given . The first of the questions will score depending on whether the answer given is correct or incorrect, regardless of whether we are facing a story in which inappropriate acts or blunders occur or if we are facing a control story.

The second, in which the person who commits the blunder is asked, any answer that identifies the person in question will be considered correct, without remembering the name itself.

A different case occurs in this question in the case of control stories, since it will be scored positively for not answering while answering will be penalized (after all, in control stories no one is committing any inappropriate act or a mistake leg).

To assess each of the abilities assessed in this test, all the scores of the question that corresponds to that skill will be added and then divided by the sum of the products of the correct answers to the control questions in the stories with inappropriate content and the product of the correct answers to the control questions in the control stories.

The maximum score is 30, the lower the score, the more difficulty in the different areas analyzed . However, it is not advisable to focus on a final score, rather it is preferable to assess each area separately.


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