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Autistic adults show enhanced generosity to socially distant others (Preprint)


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V.I.P Member
Abstract said:
Sharing resources is fundamental for human cooperation and survival. People tend to share resources more with individuals they feel close to compared to those who are more socially distant. This decline in generosity at increasing social distance is called social discounting and is influenced by both social traits and abilities, such as empathy, but also by non-social psychological factors, such as decision-making biases.

People who receive a diagnosis of autism show differences in communication and social interaction as well as displaying differences in non-social domains, such as more restricted and repetitive behaviours.

We investigated social discounting in autism and found that autistic adults were more generous than neurotypical participants, especially to socially distant others, such as strangers. Greater autism-related differences in communication, social skills, and attention switching correlated with increased generosity suggesting that both social and non-social aspects of autism contributed to these effects. Additionally, we extend previous work showing that autistic individuals are less susceptible to framing effects – whether monetary decisions are framed as potential losses or gains – supporting the view of ‘enhanced rationality’ in autism.

Our results show that the differences seen in autism, as well as posing certain challenges, can also have prosocial consequences.

Lay Abstract said:
Autistic people show differences in their social behaviour. But how autism affects decisions to share resources,
an important part of cooperation, was previously unclear.

In our study, participants made decisions about how to share money with different people, including people they felt close to, such as a friend, and people they felt less close to, such as a stranger. We found that compared to a group of non-autistic participants, autistic adults shared more money, especially with people they felt less close to, such as strangers.

The results suggest that autistic adults were more generous because they made fair decisions more consistently regardless of how close they felt to the person they were sharing with. By showing that autistic adults display greater generosity, our results could help to change public perceptions of autism and potentially improve opportunities for autistic people.

Preprint available at
I feel that this also causes us more problems, this generosity. But interesting resource. :)
It's never been said openly but my cousin appears to have quite profound autism. He's made lots of great improvements over the years and is probably more functional in terms of the mundane things I struggle with due to depression etc.

The thing is he's often very generous to people. He doesn't have any sense of mistrust.

My uncle told us that he was given some money to spend on video games etc. He's really into video games! I understand that it was quite significant amount of money that he was given. He went off to look around the stores and took a seat on a bench. A woman approached him and started telling him she was in a real mess and needed money. My cousin then handed it all over to her.

Now there's every possibility she was a scammer, there's also every possibility that she did need the money. He didn't see her as someone who could take advantage, only someone that he could help and who needed help. I understand why his parents were upset. But honestly, I felt really proud of him!

I can appreciate that people taking advantage of others generosity can make us feel a bit jaded. It took me probably longer to be so, I guess, careful with my generosity. But at the same time I think this paper shows another great trait that ND people can have. I'm not NT bashing here, there are lots of generous NT people out there. But in a way I'm not surprised that people who feel like outsiders are more kind to others that are left out in the cold in some way or another.
I give a lot. I always go above and beyond, and when I don't - I tend to feel bad.

Mind you, people pleasing can end up being unhealthy. Giving so much that you take from yourself.

I remind myself that it's not selfish to say no. But regardless of my own needs and wants - I find I instinctively want to help other people.

I give a lot. I always go above and beyond, and when I don't - I tend to feel bad.

Mind you, people pleasing can end up being unhealthy. Giving so much that you take from yourself.

I remind myself that it's not selfish to say no. But regardless of my own needs and wants - I find I instinctively want to help other people.

I tend to do similar things. If I have the skills to help someone and they want me to, I will help them.

Sometimes I take on more than I can cope with, which these days, isn't an awful lot. My family will try to persuade me to take my time and not to feel bad if I can't fix something for someone.

I never accept payment for helping people out. That's not my motivation. I suppose this could be because my mother never did anything "nice" for anyone without expecting something in return sooner or later. I won't be like her.

If I can help someone, the knowledge that I did is reward enough.
Oh I feel really awkward when people offer me money. Even moreso when they refuse my rejection of accepting money.


The more psicology studies I see the more I doub of pre-learned knowledge I have taken for granted.

This guys did a questionary to 53 people in order to resolve the controversy of social discounting in autism... prove that autists are more generous than NT and thus influence society perception on autism....

Just ask to 53 people to claim knowledge and change the world.

This remind me to the tale of three students visiting UK on a train trip. The psycologist spotted a black sheep and said: Look! In UK sheeps are black!
The enginneer laughed and said: Look! In UK one sheep is black!
The mathematician face palmed and said: No wonder why you use safety factors. In UK half a sheep is black!
In a country that should statistically have around 1 million autistic people that is indeed a very small sample.
I think they are thinking globaly, so they are 53 questionaries to gather conclussions about the world autist population... that is not even clearly defined nor diagnosed... on a topic like "being generous" that is not clearly defined either and... may have some some different views from different cultures, religions and generations... and its influenced by only God knows how many independent variables including weather or having a pet at home.

Enougth to cause a heart attack on a mathematician.

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