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Why People with Autism Are More Logical

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nichii
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New research shows why people with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are more logical in their decision-making compared to people who do not have the disorder. Think Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

Scientists at King’s College London discovered people with autism are not influenced by the so-called “Framing Effect” — a way of thinking described by the nobel-prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman in the 1980s.

The theory is that people make decisions based on the way choices are framed. Kahneman and his colleagues showed that this was because people use their emotions when making decisions, hence some options appear more desirable than others, even when choices offer the same reward.

For example, when given $70 in a gambling scenario, people are more likely to gamble their money if they think they are going to “Lose $50” than if they stand to “Keep $20”, even though both options are numerically equivalent.

The thought of losing money creates a strong emotional response and people respond by doing something to prevent this from happening (i.e. by gambling their money).

Research has shown that emotional awareness is impaired in people with alexithymia, otherwise known as “emotional blindness”. As “emotional blindness” is more common in people with autism, this could mean autistic individuals are less susceptible to the emotionally driven Framing Effect.

Researchers also know that people with alexithymia have difficulties in detecting their own heartbeat, raising the possibility that following one’s heartbeat may be linked to the Framing Effect.

In a new study, published in the journal Molecular Autism, people with and without autism were given a computerized task to measure their susceptibility to the Framing Effect. They were repeatedly given the opportunity to gamble in situations where they could either “lose” or “gain” money from an initial pot of money.

Participants were also asked to close their eyes and count their heartbeats in order to measure how well they perceived their internal sensations. Finally, emotional awareness was measured using a questionnaire.

People without autism were almost two times more likely to gamble in situations where they could lose money relative to when they could gain money. Although people with autism chose to gamble just as often as those in the non-autistic (control) group, there was little difference between gambling when they were going to lose or gain money.

Among people who did not have autism, those most “in touch” with their internal sensations, and who also had good emotional awareness, were most susceptible to the Framing Effect.

In contrast, susceptibility to the Framing Effect was less pronounced in people with autism because it was not driven by their perception of internal sensations or emotional awareness.

Study authors believe this indicates that the two groups were using different strategies when making their decisions — people without autism were using their intuition, emotion, and “following their heart”, while those with autism used a more rule-based rational strategy.

Punit Shah from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, explains, “Our study adds to evidence of atypical psychological processes in autism, but also highlights that the condition may carry benefits in situations where it may be useful to ‘follow your head and not your heart.”

“It is often thought that people with autism are ‘good with numbers’ and therefore more rational, but this theory is not well understood. Our research helps to explain that people with autism make more logical decisions because they are not as easily influenced by their internal sensations or ‘gut-feelings’.”

The study also offers insights into why some people are more susceptible to the Framing Effect, many decades after the concept was discovered.

Punit Shah added, “Our study suggests that complex decisions are related to very basic biological processes such as the extent to which we feel our heartbeat.”

Source: http://psychcentral.com/news/2016/10/14/why-people-with-autism-are-more-logical/111138.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=hot-topics&utm_content=bufferee6a0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

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Nesf

I agree with the article. I've noticed in myself that I tend to make logical decisions rather than emotion-driven ones. I think that autism and the way we experience and perceive emotions are very strongly linked. Many of the features of autism are a result of differences in the way we perceive and experience emotions.

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Kroge

The study isn't that strong and doesn't make any strong links either way. Framing autistic individuals as some kind of immune to the framing effect is just silly. Everyone is susceptible to framing, that's just how human psychology works, period. There is also no possibility of exemption from emotion at all; this is true for all mammals.

I think the whole "more logical" thing is vastly overstated although I can see why it appeals so much to some people, especially younger people.

A (weak) study is one thing, but you would be hard-pressed to find many real people who are genuinely logical, autistic or not. And I mean genuinely; finding someone who praises their own superior logic on an internet forum isn't that difficult. I wonder just how many people can apply serious logic to real life on a daily basis.

Edited by Kroge

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.......

I apply logic to everything I do..... 

I studied semiology at college before I dropped out. It was learning about that, that made me drop out. 

I get seriously frustrated by the lack of logic that i see all around me on a day basis. 

I believe I can achieve anything I put my focus onto - even a 3D internal model of the entire universe, plus multiverse. If I had a socialising model, there'd be no room for the cosmos. :)

 

 

 

 

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.......

I have heard the term eidetic 3D mind before but not sure what eidetic means but seeing things in 3d allows you to assess them before they happen. Like being one step ahead of time, always.

Edited by Spiral

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Myrtonos

Over on a railfan forum, I get seen as less rational by fellow posters (some of the working in industries and dealing with industry costings at work), I get seen as less rational than a lot of others, most of them don't seem to be autistic.

Most people who work in industries and deal with industry costing professionally are probably not on the spectrum.

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Dr-David-Banner
On Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 3:12 AM, nichii said:

 

That's a great post by Nichii. In fact this is what I've been saying for some time. Thinking with emotions is not good. Children start out in life dominated by emotions but adults are supposed to develop a degree of analytical over-ride. Alexithymia exists as a modern diagnosis although I find this symptom was accepted as a component of schizoid personality type or autistic psychopathy. I have this symptom and it's hard to describe as those with it seem not to care. There is a coldness to it and lack of emotional connection. I even thought maybe you could describe it this way: After a tragic accident neurotypicals tend to yell, cry and sob. An autistic psychopath will not. Instead he may immediately want to try and fix the problem. What went wrong? How can it be avoided? Mr Spock quoted above was apparently based on schizoid or autistic psychopathy but he comes across as very "together". 

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Dr-David-Banner
On Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 1:02 PM, Kroge said:

The study isn't that strong and doesn't make any strong links either way. Framing autistic individuals as some kind of immune to the framing effect is just silly. Everyone is susceptible to framing, that's just how human psychology works, period. There is also no possibility of exemption from emotion at all; this is true for all mammals.

I think the whole "more logical" thing is vastly overstated although I can see why it appeals so much to some people, especially younger people.

A (weak) study is one thing, but you would be hard-pressed to find many real people who are genuinely logical, autistic or not. And I mean genuinely; finding someone who praises their own superior logic on an internet forum isn't that difficult. I wonder just how many people can apply serious logic to real life on a daily basis.

Kroge's point: I agree that even autistics or those with schizoid personality still have feelings. Otherwise we would never be able to sense threats from others and we certainly wouldn't have anger meltdowns. Only Spock is that logical. My own theory based on what I experience is my emotions tend to swing from extremes of no reaction to extreme reaction, especially if a pet dies. Or maybe the emotion is more inwardly suppressed and internalised. After all depression is an emotional state - although I outgrew it. For me emotional connection is weak but Spock is another matter.

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Dr-David-Banner

I do happen to be aware some psychologists tend to have a dim view of low empathy. I'm working on some articles for my website on the theme of empathy. Here is what was stated in Psychology Today:
"It is a common belief that people with autism lack empathy. One researcher who helped to popularize this belief was the British professor of developmental psychopathology, Simon Baron-Cohen, who saw autism as an “empathy disorder.” According to Baron-Cohen, one of the features of autism is “mind blindness,” which means that you can’t put yourself into someone else’s shoes, can’t “read” other people’s faces and body language, and so can’t tell what they are thinking or feeling. As a result, people with autism find it difficult to respond in an appropriate way in social situations. They may appear emotionless and impolite. 

However, many people with autism — and their families — are confused by this belief, since they feel that they often experience and witness empathy. They sometimes say that they appear to "feel with" other people to an even greater extent than normal. A friend of mine has a young son who is on the autistic spectrum, who is certainly empathic in the sense that he reacts strongly to other people’s suffering. He becomes distressed when people around him are upset, and shows happiness when they are happy.

And in fact, many researchers have begun to question the assumption of a lack of empathy in autism. There have been suggestions that it isn’t empathy itself that is impaired in people with autism, but just social communication skills, or the ability to understand, describe, or express one's emotions."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Myself I noticed that although Hans Asperger himself frequently lamented lack of feeling and emotion in his patients, he does also remark there are cases on the opposite spectrum - where emotionial empathy is very strong.

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Dr-David-Banner

 

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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