Nothing about us without us
Who: Lim, Young, & Brewer
Journal: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Published: 3 March 2021
Title: Autistic Adults May Be Erroneously Perceived as Deceptive and Lacking Credibility
This study wanted to see whether autistic people are seen as more deceptive and less credible than allistic people, even when they are telling the truth. They thought, based upon previous study into deception, that the following autistic characteristics would be perceived as deceptive: gaze aversion, repetitive body movements, flat affect, poor social reciprocity, and literal interpretation of language. (Some of these have been shown to effect perception of how truthful someone is, but they are not related to actual truthfulness).
Autistic and allistic participants were filmed having an interview in which they told the truth about not having taken money. Then, psychologists watched the videos to code the above behaviours, and different allistic participants watched the videos to decide how truthful the autistic and allistic people were being, without knowing if they were autistic or not.
In fact, the coders found that the five above characteristics were no more likely in the autistic people than the allistic people.
This could be due to masking.
The allistic participants scored the autistic participants to be more deceptive on scales of competence and character. If they were then told that the person is diagnosed as autistic, they then stopped seeing them as deceptive. However, they continued to score them as being less competent as allistic people. This may be because autism was descibed using the DSM-V, which is based upon a medical model of deficits which can cause autistic people to be perceived as incompetent.
Despite autistic people not displaying any behaviours that overtly seperated them from the allistic group, they were still judged as less trustworthy and more deceptive. The reasons for this are unclear. It may be due to subtle nuances of behaviour or combinations of behaviour which lead autistic people to be more vulnerable to negative judgement than allistics. This is especially important to remember in contexts such as the criminal justice system.