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Neurotype-Matching, but Not Being Autistic, Influences Self and Observer Ratings of Interpersonal Rapport

Crompton, Catherine J.; Sharp, Martha; Axbey, Harriet; Fletcher-Watson, Sue; Flynn, Emma G.; Ropar, Danielle

Neurotype-Matching, but Not Being Autistic, Influences Self and Observer Ratings of Interpersonal Rapport Thumbnail


Catherine J. Crompton

Martha Sharp

Harriet Axbey
PGR Student Doctor of Philosophy

Sue Fletcher-Watson

Emma G. Flynn

Danielle Ropar


The Double Empathy Problem suggests that communicative difficulties between autistic and non-autistic people are due to bi-directional differences in communicative style and a reciprocal lack of understanding. If true, there should be increased similarity in interaction style, resulting in higher rapport during interactions between pairs of the same neurotype. Here, we provide two empirical tests of rapport, with data revealing whether self- and observer- rated rapport varies depending on the match or mismatch in autism status within a pair. An additional opportunity afforded by these data is to examine the effect of the autism status of the rater on the perceived rapport between matched and mismatched pairs. In Study 1 72 participants were allocated to one of three dyad conditions: autistic pairs (n = 24), non-autistic pairs (n = 24) and mixed pairs (n = 12 autistic; n = 12 non-autistic). Each participant completed three semi-structured interactions with their partner, rating rapport after each interaction. Non-autistic pairs experienced higher self-rated rapport than mixed and autistic pairs, and autistic pairs experienced higher rapport than mixed pairs. In Study 2 (n = 80) autistic and non-autistic observers rated interactional rapport while watching videoed interactions between autistic pairs, non-autistic pairs, and mixed pairs (n = 18, a subset of participants in Study 1). Mixed pairs were rated significantly lower on rapport than autistic and non-autistic pairs, and autistic pairs were rated more highly for rapport than non-autistic pairs. Both autistic and non-autistic observers show similar patterns in how they rate the rapport of autistic, non-autistic, and mixed pairs. In summary, autistic people experience high interactional rapport when interacting with other autistic people, and this is also detected by external observers. Rather than autistic people experiencing low rapport in all contexts, their rapport ratings are influenced by a mismatch of diagnosis. These findings suggest that autistic people possess a distinct mode of social interaction style, rather than demonstrating social skills deficits. These data are considered in terms of their implications for psychological theories of autism, as well as practical impact on educational and clinical practice.


Crompton, C. J., Sharp, M., Axbey, H., Fletcher-Watson, S., Flynn, E. G., & Ropar, D. (2020). Neurotype-Matching, but Not Being Autistic, Influences Self and Observer Ratings of Interpersonal Rapport. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, Article 586171.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 7, 2020
Online Publication Date Oct 23, 2020
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date Nov 18, 2020
Publicly Available Date Nov 18, 2020
Journal Frontiers in Psychology
Print ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Article Number 586171


Published Journal Article (826 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2020 Crompton, Sharp, Axbey, Fletcher-Watson, Flynn and Ropar. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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