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To covet what we see: autistic traits modulate the relationship between looking and choosing

Hedger, N. and Chakrabarti, B. ORCID: (2021) To covet what we see: autistic traits modulate the relationship between looking and choosing. Autism Research, 14 (2). pp. 289-300. ISSN 1939-3806

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/aur.2349


Behavioral studies indicate that autistic traits predict reduced gaze towards social stimuli. Moreover, experiments that require participants to make an explicit choice between stimuli indicate reduced preferences for social stimuli in individuals with high autistic traits. These observations, in combination, fit with the idea that gaze is actively involved in the formation of choices - gaze towards a stimulus increases the likelihood of its subsequent selection. Although these aspects of gaze and choice behavior have been well-characterized separately, it remains unclear how autistic traits affect the relationship between gaze and socially-relevant choices. In a choice-based eye-tracking paradigm, we observed that autistic traits predict less frequent and delayed selection of social stimuli. Critically, eye-tracking revealed novel phenomena underlying these choice behaviors: First, the relationship between gaze and choice behavior was weaker in individuals with high autistic traits - an increase in gaze to a stimulus was associated with a smaller increase in choice probability. Second, time-series analyses revealed that gaze became predictive of choice behaviors at longer latencies in observers with high autistic traits. This dissociation between gaze and choice in individuals with high autistic traits may reflect wider atypicalities in value coding. Such atypicalities may predict the development of atypical social behaviors associated with the autism phenotype.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:90917


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