People with ASD risk being manipulated because they can't tell when they're being lied to

May 22, 2018, University of Kent

A new study shows that the ability to distinguish truth from lies is diminished in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) - putting them at greater risk of being manipulated.

Researchers, led by Professor David Williams of the University of Kent, found that lie detection ability is 'significantly diminished' in those with a full ASD diagnosis. It is also related to how many ASD traits people in the have—the more traits, the poorer the deception detection ability.

Professor Williams, of Kent's School of Psychology, and researchers from four other universities in the UK and US conducted experiments with participants exhibiting varying degrees of ASD and compared them to those who were deemed 'neurotypical' or not displaying autistic patterns of thought or behaviour.

Participants were shown a number of videos of people responding to questions about their earlier participation in an experiment during which they had an opportunity to cheat by looking at an answer sheet while the experimenter was out of the room. All the people in the video denied cheating, but some of them had actually looked at the answer sheet. Participants had to judge whether the people in each video were lying or not.

In one video shown to participants a liar responds 'I guess no' to the question 'did any cheating occur when the experimenter left the room?'. Those with a diagnosis of ASD and those from the general population with a high number of ASD traits found it difficult to make an inference about deceit, even when such cues were available.

The researchers suggest that limited social engagement among people with ASD, as well as neurotypical people with a relatively high number of ASD traits, may result in a failure to learn the social cues that indicate deceit. It is important to consider whether training individuals with ASD to detect behavioural indicators of lying.

They conclude that 'if such training were successful, it would represent a significant opportunity to enhance the lives of a group of people who, on the basis of our result and anecdotal reports, are clearly susceptible to exploitation.'

Explore further: Research reveals autism and schizophrenia share common traits

More information: David M. Williams et al, Can you spot a liar? Deception, mindreading, and the case of autism spectrum disorder, Autism Research (2018). DOI: 10.1002/aur.1962

Related Stories

Research reveals autism and schizophrenia share common traits

April 24, 2018
New research at Swinburne has revealed a significant overlap in the traits associated with autism and schizophrenia.

Perspective-taking difficulties diminished when autistic and psychosis tendencies balance

May 14, 2015
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have shed new light on the relationship between autistic tendencies and psychosis proneness in neurotypical adults.

Adults with autism show a diminished brain response to hearing their own name

January 30, 2018
Previously, research has shown that children at risk of an autism diagnosis respond less to hearing their own name. Now, a new study from Ghent University shows for the first time that the brain response to hearing one's ...

Understanding social impairments in autism

December 21, 2015
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich together with colleagues in Cologne and Zürich have used mathematical models to explain differences in social behaviour associated with autistic personality ...

Psychopaths are better at learning to lie, say researchers

July 25, 2017
Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie than individuals who show few psychopathic traits, according to a study published in the open access journal Translational Psychiatry. The ...

Autism traits increase thoughts of suicide in people with psychosis

December 14, 2017
People with autism traits who have psychosis are at a greater risk of depression and thoughts of suicide, new research has found.

Recommended for you

Brain activity shows development of visual sensitivity in autism

December 11, 2018
Research investigating how the brain responds to visual patterns in people with autism has shown that sensory responses change between childhood and adulthood.

Study connects the genetic background of autistic spectrum disorders with stem cell dysfunction

December 4, 2018
Disorders of the autistic spectrum have been associated with hundreds of genetic variations, which have helped in identifying disturbed intracellular signalling pathways and molecular mechanisms typical to autism.

Home videos of children can be scored to diagnose autism, study says

November 27, 2018
Short home videos can be used to diagnose autism in children, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Brain responses to language in toddlers with autism linked to altered gene expression

November 26, 2018
An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of Cyprus and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, have identified a previously unknown, large-scale association between molecular ...

How many kids have autism? US government measures three ways

November 26, 2018
How many American children have autism? The U.S. government answers that question at least three different ways and says the latest estimate—1 in 40 kids—doesn't necessarily mean the numbers are rising.

Mutation that causes autism and intellectual disability makes brain less flexible

November 19, 2018
About 1 percent of patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability have a mutation in a gene called SETD5. Scientists have now discovered what happens on a molecular level when the gene is mutated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.