Diversity in Social Intelligence Replication

Exploring how autistic and non-autistic people learn from one another.

About the project                                                           

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adults being sociable

         

The term ‘intelligence’ doesn’t just mean scoring well on a specific test or exams. It can also refer to the ability to function successfully in a social capacity. This might include understanding someone else’s intentions or motives, knowing when to speak and when to not speak and appreciating the social context of an interaction, for example, talking to a close friend compared to a stranger.

Most studies on autistic people posit that due to social communication deficits, autistic people are not as socially intelligent as non-autistic people. However, evidence is now suggesting that autistic people communicate as well with each other as non-autistic people communicate with other non-autistic people.

One study that found this was conducted by Catherine Crompton and Sue Fletcher-Watson at the University of Edinburgh between 2018 and 2020. This study found that autistic people and non-autistic people communicate similarly well when they are with other people of the same neurotype, but when the groups were a mixture of autistic and non-autistic people, breakdowns in communication began to occur. You can read more about the original study here.

This current project will replicate the 2018 study across three sites in three countries – the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the University of Nottingham (England), and The University of Texas at Dallas (USA). We aim to repeat the study in a larger and more diverse sample to see if we find the same results.

The original study had a major impact not only in the field of autism research but within the autistic community itself. It is hoped that this study will lead to improvements in the lives of autistic people and their non-autistic friends and family.

 

The current study

The current study will run between 2022 and 2024. We are looking to recruit 324 participants across Edinburgh, Nottingham and Dallas to take part. This will involve filling in an online questionnaire and attending a Research Day (about 2-3 hours long) in person.

On each Research Day, we’ll invite six participants to attend. In Edinburgh, this will be at Kennedy Tower in the Morningside area. On some Research Days, all participants will be autistic; on some, all participants will be non-autistic; and on some, three participants will be autistic and three will be non-autistic. Sometimes we’ll tell participants if they’re in an autistic, non-autistic or mixed group, and sometimes we won’t.

Each Research Day will involve doing several tasks (though with lots of breaks!). Some of these tasks will be with another person, and some will be individual. These are designed to help us understand how information is shared between autistic and non-autistic people.  As a thank you for taking part, we would like to give you a £30 voucher (of your choice) and reimburse reasonable travel costs. If you want to know more about what’s involved and/or register your interest in participating, please email Michelle Dodd using the link below.

 

Why are you repeating the same study again?

One of the main tenets of science is that experiments need to be replicable. This means that any researcher (whether involved in the original study or not) should be able to repeat a study with a different sample of participants and see the same effect(s). If results can be successfully replicated, researchers can be much more confident in generalising them to the larger population.

We are repeating our study in a much larger sample and across three different sites to see if we find the same results as our original study. By doing so, we can learn more about autistic and non-autistic interaction and whether there are robust effects of social context on how people communicate.

 

Interested in taking part?

We are currently recruiting autistic and non-autistic participants for this study in Edinburgh only. If you are able to get to Edinburgh and would like to participate, there is more information below and on this poster. 

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A detailed poster explaining how to participate in the Diversity in Social Intelligence Replication study

If you would like to participate in Nottingham or Dallas, please email us and we will pass your details on to the people in charge of the study in those sites.

 

Meet the team

Our team includes researchers in Edinburgh, Nottingham, and Dallas. If you would like to know more about each team member, you can click their name below

Principal Investigator (Edinburgh) – Dr Catherine Crompton

Co-Investigator (Edinburgh) – Professor Sue Fletcher-Watson

Co-Investigator (Dallas) – Professor Noah Sasson

Co-Investigator (Nottingham) – Dr Danielle Ropar

Research Assistant (Edinburgh) – Michelle Dodd

Post-doctoral Research Assistant (Nottingham) – Charlotte Wilks

Research Assistant (Dallas) – Sarah Foster 

 

Research Day information

If you are interested in participating in the Diversity in Social Intelligence Replication study in Edinburgh, please complete this online form so that we can check your eligibility. If you’re eligible, we will let you know via your choice of email, text, phone or letter. We will then discuss possible dates that you can come to Kennedy Tower in Edinburgh for a Research Day. These will mostly be on weekends and will last up to 3 hours.

If you would like to know more about what to expect from a Research Day, please watch our video. Click here for the full version (just over 5 minutes).

We also have two short videos, the first here to help you find Kennedy Tower where the Research Day will happen and another to show you what the building is like inside, that can be found here. We can also send you detailed directions and maps. 

We are happy to answer any questions you might have. Please feel free to contact us at mdodd2@ed.ac.uk.

 

Outputs

We will update this section as our outputs become available.

Conference presentations

Open Science in Experimental Autism Research: A replication study of information transfer within and between autistic and non-autistic people. (Edinburgh Open Research Conference 2022)

Outputs from the original Diversity in Social Intelligence study

Peer reviewed papers

•            Neurotype-Matching, but Not Being Autistic, Influences Self and Observer Ratings of Interpersonal Rapport

•            Autistic peer-to-peer information transfer is highly effective

•            ‘I never realised everybody felt as happy as I do when I am around autistic people’: A thematic analysis of autistic adults’ relationships with autistic and neurotypical friends and family

•            What Do New Findings About Social Interaction in Autistic Adults Mean for Neurodevelopmental Research?

•            Investigating Markers of Rapport in Autistic and Nonautistic Interactions

 

Articles for a younger audience

•            Double Empathy: Why Autistic People Are Often Misunderstood

 

Media

•            Understanding Social Cognition in Autism Video. Transcripts for this video are available here

•            An animated podcast on the Double Empathy Problem

•            An interview with The Thinking Persons Guide to Autism

 

Accessible summaries

•            Winter 2021 Diversity in Social Intelligence Update

•            Spring 2020 Diversity in Social Intelligence Update

•            Summer 2019 Diversity in Social Intelligence Update

•            An accessible summary of our results so far (MS Word Version)

 

Funders

This research is funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation.

Primary project contact

Michelle Dodd