The Relation between Preference for Predictability and Autistic Traits
Objectives: In the current study, we investigated whether we could observe this common symptom of ASD under controlled experimental conditions using three different paradigms. We used a dimensional approach in order to estimate the correlation between autistic traits and preference for predictability.
Methods: A large sample of participants (n = 164) was presented with three tasks that each measured preference for predictability in a different way, including both explicit and implicit measures. The first task assessed aesthetic preferences for sequences of tones that varied in their predictability. In the second task, we measured preference for perceptual fluency. The third task consisted of choosing between decks of cards with reward outcomes varying in predictability. Autistic traits were measured by using the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS).
Results: We observed a significant positive correlation between autistic traits and preferences for both predictable sequences of tones and perceptual fluency. However, there was no correlation between behavior in the cards task and autistic traits.
Conclusions: These results show that there is a relation between autistic traits and preference for predictability in a standardized lab environment, but that this is restricted to specific situations. Our findings might indicate that the correlation is only apparent when preferences are explicitly measured as compared to implicitly investigated, and that transferring preferences from one context to another might be disturbed in ASD. However, as these studies are only a first step towards a better understanding of insistence on sameness, more research is necessary. Overall, we hope that these studies might inspire future systematic investigations into this key symptom of ASD.
See more of: Sensory, Motor, and Repetitive Behaviors and Interests