Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1423–1436 | Cite as

Linguistic Alignment in Adults with and Without Asperger’s Syndrome

  • Katie E. Slocombe
  • Ivan Alvarez
  • Holly P. Branigan
  • Tjeerd Jellema
  • Hollie G. Burnett
  • Anja Fischer
  • Yan Hei Li
  • Simon Garrod
  • Liat Levita
Original Paper


Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) often have difficulties with social interactions and conversations. We investigated if these difficulties could be attributable to a deficit in the ability to linguistically converge with an interlocutor, which is posited to be important for successful communication. To that end, participants completed two cooperative tasks with a confederate, which allowed us to measure linguistic alignment with the confederate in terms of lexical choice, syntactic structure and spatial frame of reference. There was no difference in the performance of individuals with AS and matched controls and both groups showed significant alignment with the confederate at all three levels. We conclude that linguistic alignment is intact in adults with AS engaged in structured, goal-directed social interactions.


Linguistic alignment Asperger’s Syndrome Autism spectrum disorder Social communication Conversation Dialogue 



We are grateful to Kate Brook, Sara Shaikh, Francesca Woods, Steph Burchill and Fern Cosgrave for help with data collection and stimuli creation and to Paula Clarke for advice and training. This project was funded by the Department of Psychology, University of York Summer Bursary Scheme 2008 and 2009.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie E. Slocombe
    • 1
  • Ivan Alvarez
    • 1
  • Holly P. Branigan
    • 2
  • Tjeerd Jellema
    • 3
  • Hollie G. Burnett
    • 3
  • Anja Fischer
    • 1
    • 5
  • Yan Hei Li
    • 1
  • Simon Garrod
    • 4
  • Liat Levita
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HullHullUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  5. 5.Institute for Neuroimmunology and Clinical MS ResearchCenter for Molecular NeurobiologyHamburgGermany
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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