Sharing: Autistics Don’t Do Heuristics

Man Thinking, Looking Out Over Foggy Harbor - Photo by Phoebe Dill on Unsplash
Photo by Phoebe Dill on Unsplash

Found a great little gem of a post this morning (actually, it was yesterday morning, but I forgot to click Publish on this post):

Autistics Don’t Do Heuristics

“We could expect that individuals with autism . . . would be less susceptible to reasoning biases.”

(The development of reasoning heuristics in autism and in typical development. Morsanyi, 2010) 

Given the debate around human rationality in decision-making over the last 40+ years, you’d think that psychologists and Behavioural Economists would have been scrambling over each other to dig deeper into a statement like the one above. The phrase “less susceptible to reasoning biases” goes against much of what we’ve learnt about the inherent irrationality of human behaviour since Kahneman and Tversky started getting people to gamble on coin tosses in the 70’s.

In reality, as the above paper goes on to point out, research into autistic reasoning in this context is sparse. However, there have been some studies, and autistic subjects have been tested on their response to cognitive biases such as the framing effect (choice will be effected by how information is presented), the conjunction fallacy (we think that more detail makes an event more probable whereas the reverse is true), the base rate fallacy (we favour specific information over general information), and the sunk cost fallacy (we’re influenced by how much we’ve already invested in an event or project). 

I’m not sure what the hold-up is, in doing decent research about how those of us on the spectrum think differently — including how we have a certain advantage in some circumstances. But eventually, that work may get done.

In the meantime, I’ll get on with my own life and focus on my own thought process. At least that’s something I can manage.

Read the full post here

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