The cognitive representation of oneself is central to other sociocognitive processes, including relations with others. It is reflected in faster, more accurate processing of self-relevant information, a "self-prioritisation effect" (SPE) which is inconsistent across studies in autism. Across two tasks with autistic and non-autistic participants, we explored the SPE and its relationship to autistic traits, mentalizing ability and loneliness. A SPE was intact in both groups, but together the two tasks suggested a reduced tendency of late-diagnosed autistic participants to differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar others and greater ease disengaging from the self-concept. Correlations too revealed a complex picture, which we attempt to explore and disentangle with reference to the inconsistency across self-processing studies in autism, highlighting implications for future research.
This work was supported by departmental funds granted to RLM, for which we thank the Psychology Department at Bournemouth University. Our immense gratitude goes to our participants, who so generously gave their time to this research, and to the owners/moderators of the online support groups who allowed us to advertise our research there.
Partial financial support was received from Bournemouth University.
- Social cognition