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aka010101
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07 May 2009, 9:44 am

Alright, a friend of mine suggested this little experiment, hopefully some of our wrongplanet readers are in universities and can try this out. Or at least tell me that this has been done. :lol:

My friend and i have this theory that aspies DO have empathy, but it only functions properly with other aspies.

The experiment itself is very simple: Set up two test subjects in a room and give them instructions that require they discuss something at length, then record how they interact. The experiment will have three rounds of testing. The first will be the control, where in each test, both subjects are NTs. In the second round, all groups will be an NT and an aspie. the third, obviously, both subjects will be aspies.
If our theory is correct the dual aspie test will show returns very similar to the dual NT test. obviously this will have to be a double blind test.

Anyway, as my friend and i aren't at a big university and can't set this up ourselves, i thought i'd post it here. Hopefully this gets tried, i'm rather interested to see what it will turn up.



fiddlerpianist
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07 May 2009, 10:14 am

aka010101 wrote:
Alright, a friend of mine suggested this little experiment, hopefully some of our wrongplanet readers are in universities and can try this out. Or at least tell me that this has been done. :lol:

My friend and i have this theory that aspies DO have empathy, but it only functions properly with other aspies.

The experiment itself is very simple: Set up two test subjects in a room and give them instructions that require they discuss something at length, then record how they interact. The experiment will have three rounds of testing. The first will be the control, where in each test, both subjects are NTs. In the second round, all groups will be an NT and an aspie. the third, obviously, both subjects will be aspies.
If our theory is correct the dual aspie test will show returns very similar to the dual NT test. obviously this will have to be a double blind test.

Anyway, as my friend and i aren't at a big university and can't set this up ourselves, i thought i'd post it here. Hopefully this gets tried, i'm rather interested to see what it will turn up.


The results would be interesting to see, but I'd be highly surprised if your hypothesis is correct. First, it would highly depend on the aspies: how old they were, how well adapted they were to social situations, how intense their condition is. Even if you had two fairly well adapted aspies in the room, they would probably talk at each other and not with each other.



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07 May 2009, 10:32 am

I can't read autistic people any better than non-autistic people.

I don't feel any more for them than for non-autistic people either.

You'll be unable to make a sweeping generalisation about this.

It appears some can, some can't.

Maybe there are certain groups within AS and classical of which some can read other autistic people some/good while other can't.


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aka010101
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07 May 2009, 11:37 am

well, that's sort of the point of making it an experiment isn't it? To find out if the theory is right, and if not, what the real answer is.



Tantybi
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07 May 2009, 11:53 am

You might consider checking out http://www.ianproject.org/ They do all types of research.



1234
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07 May 2009, 11:57 am

I suppose, if the AS people are able to converse better together, than say with an NT, it'd just be because they feel connected because of the disorder and would therefore try to be a bit more open towards each other...
not because they'd understand each other's reactions/body language/intentions etc. better.
(at least, usually when two strangers have 1 thing in common, they tend to get along better/put a bit more effort in communication and will therefore be more open... at least in my experience watching others etc.)

BUT

I suppose you'd have to take that into consideration as well with the test.
E.g. after each test give each subject a form with questions in which they can tell how they think the talk went and why they think it went that way.



i probably said some really dumb things up there ^... but that's how I think about it at this very moment.
Subject to change;)



Amicitia
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07 May 2009, 3:56 pm

This experiment would require:

1. A way of measuring empathy.
2. A fairly high number of Aspies.
3. Some experimenters who are sufficiently ignorant of Asperger's that they don't guess the neuro-status of the participants. (Preferably, some experimenters who are so oblivious that they don't notice there's anything unusual about some of the subjects.) (You could also have confounds if any of the NT participants guess that there's something strange about their Aspie partners, or if any of the Aspie participants guess that the experiment has something to do with measuring their social skills.)
4. If the participants are involved in more than one conversation, an order rotation to control for practice effects, boredom, and other possible confounds. (If not, an even higher number of Aspies.)

Even with all this, I would be extremely cautious about generalizing the results.

Interesting idea though. :)



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07 May 2009, 4:43 pm

1234 wrote:
I
not because they'd understand each other's reactions/body language/intentions etc. better.


I respectfully disagree.
I believe that's how people socially bond on a subconscious level.
Maybe a double blind test should be done where AS people don't know about each other, so that knowing about the condition wouldn't affect the results.

Some of the people that I've socially connected the best with seem to have similar appearances and use body language to myself. They never mentioned AS, but they may have been mild.

Perhaps our "non-verbal dialects" are similar, our these strangers mannerisms remind me of how my family communicate. Hence, I might feel more at ease because these non-verbal signals seem more familiar to me.

Perhaps "non-verbal" dialects are a little bit like micro-cultures.
Hence the style of relating is probably very different.


All this said, I have made friends with very sociable people who's "non-verbal" dialects and communication styles seem very different from mine. These people usually made the first move and were friendly to me, so our "non-verbal" dialects may have complimented each other too. We did have trouble understanding each other's points of view sometimes though and sometimes the connection didn't seem as "automatic".

Finding a way of measuring subjective ideas like empathy and rapport objectively isn't that easy!

Perhaps a video recorder would be useful here or a survey for the participants at the end.

I think also, that individual personality has a part to play too.