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Self-perceived empathic abilities of people with autism towards living beings mostly differs for humans

Abstract : Being phylogenetically close involves greater empathic perceptions towards other species. To explore this phenomenon, this study investigates the influence of neurocognitive predispositions to empathy on our perceptions of other organisms. Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized, among others, by weakened empathic skills. Our online survey involved a group of 202 raters with ASD and a control group of 1100 raters, who had to make choices to assess their empathic perceptions toward an extended photographic sampling of organisms. Results highlight that both groups present overall similar trends in their empathic preferences, with empathy scores significantly decreasing with the phylogenetic distance relatively to humans. However, the empathy score attributed to Homo sapiens in the ASD group represents a striking outlier in the yet very sharp overall correlation between empathy scores and divergence time, scoring our species as low as cold-blooded vertebrates. These results are consistent with previous studies, which emphasized that (1) understanding human beings would be more difficult for people with ASD than decoding "animals" and (2) that Theory of Mind impairment would not represent a global deficit in people with ASD but may relate to the mindreading of specifically human agents.
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Contributor : Laurent Jonchère Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 3:07:26 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 3:44:52 AM


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Aurélien Miralles, Marine Grandgeorge, Michel Raymond. Self-perceived empathic abilities of people with autism towards living beings mostly differs for humans. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2022, 12 (1), pp.6300. ⟨10.1038/s41598-022-10353-2⟩. ⟨hal-03658053⟩



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