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J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 Jul;44(7):1759-65. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-2021-6.

Brief report: Impression formation in high-functioning autism: role of nonverbal behavior and stereotype activating information.

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Department of Social Psychology, University of Cologne, Herbert-Lewin-Street 2, 50931, Cologne, Germany,


Little is known about whether stereotypes influence social judgments of autistic individuals, in particular when they compete with tacit face-to-face cues. We compared impression formation of 17 subjects with high-functioning autism (HFA) and 17 age-, gender- and IQ-matched controls. Information about the profession of a job applicant served as stereotype activating information. The target person's nonverbal behavior was presented as a computer animation showing two virtual characters in interaction. Contrary to our hypothesis, HFA participants were as sensitive to nonverbal cues as controls. Moreover, HFA showed a tendency to evaluate persons more positively. This might indicate a routine HFA apply in impression formation in order to compensate for their deficit in intuitive understanding of nonverbal communication cues.

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