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Innovation through Neurodiversity: Diversity is Beneficial

Axbey, H.; Beckmann, N.; Fletcher-Watson, S.; Tullo, A.; Crompton, C.

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H. Axbey

S. Fletcher-Watson

A. Tullo

C. Crompton


Those experiencing high rapport or strong social connection are more likely to copy each other, or emulate each other’s ideas, either consciously or sub-consciously. In this study, we use this phenomenon to examine whether neurotype match or mismatch impacts degree of imitation in a creative task. We asked 71 participants in neurodiverse pairs (including both autistic and non-autistic participants) and single-neurotype pairs (both autistic or both non-autistic), where one participant builds and one observes, to build the tallest possible tower from dried spaghetti and plasticine. We measured the height of each tower and photographed them to create a stimulus set. We then asked independent raters (n = 351, 62 autistic) to rate towers for degree of similarity. We hypothesised that lower similarity scores would be generated for towers created by people in neurodiverse pairs, showing positive innovation. Results showed towers built in the neurodiverse condition had least similarity, whereas towers built in the autistic and non-autistic conditions were significantly more similar. There was no difference in performance (height of tower) based on condition. Our results are the first to examine creativity within single-neurotype and neurodiverse pairs; they indicate that neurological diversity may be beneficial within a group setting. Subsequent research is required to examine how this interacts with divergent communication styles.


Axbey, H., Beckmann, N., Fletcher-Watson, S., Tullo, A., & Crompton, C. (2023). Innovation through Neurodiversity: Diversity is Beneficial. Autism, 27(7),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 2, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 7, 2023
Publication Date 2023-10
Deposit Date Feb 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 24, 2023
Journal Autism
Print ISSN 1362-3613
Electronic ISSN 1461-7005
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 7
Public URL


Published Journal Article (OnlineFirst) (556 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
OnlineFirst This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

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