Autism & Social Rapport

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Full paper:…/fpsyg.2020.586171/full

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?


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.


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!


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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