Partnerships with people on the spectrum yield rich research insights

Nicholette Zeliadt:

There are different views on whether ‘people with autism’ or ‘autistic people’ is the better way to refer to individuals on the spectrum. Some of the people quoted in this article prefer to say ‘autistic,’ but Spectrum’s style is to refer to ‘people with autism.’

It wasn’t until Anna Remington had nearly finished collecting data that she uncovered the flaw in her study.

A couple of years ago, Remington, then a lecturer at University College London, was investigating how people determine whether someone is trustworthy. She and her colleagues showed participants with the condition a series of images of unfamiliar faces, along with some hypothetical information about each person. They then asked the participants, “Would you approach this person — either in a social or financial context?”

Overwhelmingly, the participants with autism said “no,” even in response to characters who had been described as trustworthy. Eventually, one of them pulled her aside to explain: He wasn’t interested in “approaching” anyone.