Autism spectrum conditions affect preferences in valued personal possessions

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Although autism has been characterised as a disorder certain selective advantages of autism have been identified which may represent a selective trade-off for reduced ‘folk psychology’ and provide a potential explanation for the incorporation of autism genes in the human evolutionary past. Such potential trade-off skills remain to be explored in terms of selectively advantageous or disadvantageous behaviours in the distant past however. Here we present the results of an analysis of the relationship between AQ (autism quotient) and attitudes to valued personal possessions on the basis of a study of 550 participants. We find that individuals with autism have a reduced tendency to value and preserve objects as reminders of relationships/attachment figures and place a greater value on the direct practical function of their personal possessions. The latter strategy may have been more selectively advantageous in certain contexts whilst less advantageous in others in the distant evolutionary past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-112
Number of pages14
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date28 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • autism
  • material culture
  • personal possessions
  • selective trade-offs
  • autism spectrum condition
  • Autism
  • Autism spectrum condition
  • Personal possessions
  • Material culture
  • Selective trade-offs

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