We’re coming to the end of the Diversity in Social Intelligence project.
We’ll update this page with outputs when they are published. If you would like to be added to our mailing list where we send our outputs, please send us an email.
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
Papers and protocols
- A paper on the transmission of information between autistic and neurotypical people
- A paper on the qualitative interviews of the social experiences of autistic adults with their autistic and neurotypical peers
- Our initial protocol
Conferences and lectures
- Our public lecture on Neurodiverse interaction
- The International Society for Autism Research, Montreal, 2019 – poster
- The Flux Society Congress, New York, 2019 – poster
- The Autistica Discover Conference, Reading, 2019 – Talk and Slides
- Autism Europe Conference, Nice, 2019 – Talk and Slides
- A virtual symposium of research exploring quantitative and experimental tests of the Double Empathy Problem
- An animated podcast on the Double Empathy Problem
- An inteview with The Thinking Persons Guide to Autism
- Summer 2019 Diversity in Social Intelligence Update
- An accessible summary of our results so far (MS Word Version)
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.