The Diversity in Social Intelligence project has ended. Please see below for outputs.
We are currently running a replication study of this project across three sites in three countries – the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the University of Nottingham (England), and The University of Texas at Dallas (USA). This will run between 2022 and 2024. If you are interested in finding out more about the new project, please visit our new website, or contact Michelle Dodd.
Intelligence is often boiled down to a simple test score, representing core learning skills such as pattern detection and verbal fluency. However other forms of intelligence are essential for human behaviour. One such form is social intelligence – the repertoire of skills needed to engage effectively with others, in a way which is appropriate to the context. These skills are often referred to in psychology by the umbrella term “social cognition”. This encompasses abilities such as emotion recognition, effective interpersonal communication and theory of mind. The second aspect of social intelligence is appreciation of the social context. Examples of social contexts include the cultural context (e.g. Japan vs. the UK), the relationship context (e.g. friend vs. stranger) and the environmental context (e.g. school versus home).
This proposal presented a bold re-conceptualisation of intelligence within a neurodiversity framework, challenging the notion that there is only one legitimate form of human intelligence. Specifically, we explored social intelligence in autism, drawing together diverse findings to build a hypothesis that autistic social skills may be enhanced in an autism-specific cultural context: i.e. when interacting with other people on the autism spectrum. This hypothesis was rigorously tested with experimental, quantitative descriptive and qualitative methods. In particular we adapted a cultural learning paradigm to explore transmission of information between autistic/autistic pairs compared with mixed and comparison pairs.
Outputs to date
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
We have another paper under review, and another being written, and hope to be able to share these with you soon.
Articles for a younger audience
Conferences, lectures, and invited talks
- Tizard Centre/ Participatory Autism Research Collective (March 2021) – Slides
- Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences Away Day (February 2021) Slides
- Heriot-Watt Psychology Seminar Series (December 2020) Slides
- Stirling Autism Research (STAR) Seminar Series (February 2020) Slides
- Autism Europe Conference, Nice, (September 2019) – Talk and Slides
- The Flux Society Congress, New York, 2019 – (September 2019) Poster
- University of Edinburgh Division of Psychiatry Special Lecture Series (June 2019) – Talk
- The Autistica Discover Conference, Reading, (June 2019) – Talk and Slides
- A virtual symposium of research exploring quantitative and experimental tests of the Double Empathy Problem (May 2019) – Symposium
- The International Society for Autism Research, Montreal, (May 2019) – Poster
- National Autism Society Professional Conference (March 2019) Slides
- Scottish Autism Research Group Conference (March 2019) – Slides
- Participatory Autism Research Collective (November 2018) – Slides
- An animated podcast on the Double Empathy Problem
- An interview with The Thinking Persons Guide to Autism
- 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)
Open Science Protocols
Autism community input
Best practice in autism research features equal partnerships between academics and autistic community representatives. This is reflected in our research approach.
The grant proposal was guided by autistic mentors including Kabie Brook. Our research team includes two autistic consultants, Claire Evans-Williams and Cos Michael, and we work with local volunteer mentors to provide wider representation. Autistic people have, and will continue to be, involved at every stage of the design and implementation of this research.
Who was involved?
This project was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc.
This research is funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation’s Diverse Intelligences Initiative. You can learn more about it here.