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J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Aug;48(8):2714-2726. doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3528-7.

Do Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Share Fairly and Reciprocally?

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Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YF, UK.
Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YF, UK.
Axcis Education, Manchester, UK.


This study investigated whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing children matched on receptive language share resources fairly and reciprocally. Children completed age-appropriate versions of the Ultimatum and Dictator Games with real stickers and an interactive partner. Both groups offered similar numbers of stickers (preferring equality over self-interest), offered more stickers in the Ultimatum Game, and verbally referenced 'fairness' at similar rates. However, children with ASD were significantly more likely to accept unfair offers and were significantly less likely to reciprocate the puppet's offers. Failure to reciprocate fair sharing may significantly impact on social cohesion and children's ability to build relationships. These important differences may be linked to broader deficits in social-cognitive development and potentially self-other understanding.


Autism spectrum disorder; Dictator Game; Fairness; Reciprocity; Sharing; Ultimatum Game

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