Autism & Social Rapport

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Full paper: https://www.frontiersin.org/…/fpsyg.2020.586171/full

#AccessibleAcademia
Nothing about us without us
Who: Crompton & colleagues
Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Published: 2020
Title: Neurotype-Matching, but Not Being Autistic, Influences Self and Observer Ratings of Interpersonal Rapport

Autism & rapport

Rapport = a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well

A deficit based understanding of autism assumes that autistic people are bad at building rapport with others. Is this true?

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So far, research into autistic communication & socialisation has been based off neurotypical norms!

So, they did two experiments. One where they paired up 72 adults into autistic-autistic pairs, autistic-nonautistic pairs, and nonautistic-nonautistic pairs, to have some interactions and rate the rapport. The other experiment was where 80 participants watched videos of people interacting, and judged the rapport.

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Both experiments found that autistic-nonautistic pairs had significantly lower rapport than neurotype-matched pairs.

The low rapport was felt by those interacting, and also noticed by people observing.

This shows that social difficulties experienced by autistic people can be due to a neurotype-mismatch, rather than a social deficit in autistic people!

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Autistic pairs reported that they felt lower rapport than the nonautistic pairs did. There might be three reasons for this:

1: rapport might be limited by the sheer quantity of social information needing to be processed

2: autistic people might underestimate their rapport due to having a negative self-perception of their own social skills

3: non-autistic people are more susceptible to the “social desirability bias” than autistic people. Nonautistic people might inflate their self-report rapport score so that the experimenter likes them, while autistic people tend not to do this

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