Brief Report: Reduced Optimism Bias in Self-Referential Belief Updating in High-Functioning Autism
- 437 Downloads
Previous research has demonstrated irrational asymmetry in belief updating: people tend to take into account good news and neglect bad news. Contradicting formal learning principles, belief updates were on average larger after better-than-expected information than after worse-than-expected information. In the present study, typically developing subjects demonstrated this optimism bias in self-referential judgments. In contrast, adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were significantly less biased when updating self-referential beliefs (each group n = 21, matched for age, gender and IQ). These findings indicate a weaker influence of self-enhancing motives on prospective judgments in ASD. Reduced susceptibility to emotional and motivational biases in reasoning in ASD could elucidate impairments of social cognition, but may also confer important cognitive benefits.
KeywordsAutism Belief updating Optimism bias Rationality Judgment Learning
We thank the teams of the Autism Outpatient Clinic and the Neuroimaging Lab at the University Hospital Cologne for the great work in clinical diagnosis and neuropsychological and experimental testing, especially Alexandra L. Georgescu and Kerstin Eßer. Furthermore, we thank Anneli Jefferson for valuable discussions and comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.
B. Kuzmanovic and K. Vogeley developed the study concept and the research question. B. Kuzmanovic developed the experimental design. B. Kuzmanovic and L. Rigoux performed the data analysis. B. Kuzmanovic drafted the manuscript, and K. Vogeley and L. Rigoux provided significant and extended further contributions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the local ethics committee of the Medical Faculty of the University of Cologne, Germany and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Damiano, C. R., Aloi, J., Treadway, M., Bodfish, J. W., & Dichter, G. S. (2012). Adults with autism spectrum disorders exhibit decreased sensitivity to reward parameters when making effort-based decisions. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 4, 13. doi: 10.1186/1866-1955-4-13.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- De Martino, B., Harrison, N. A., Knafo, S., Bird, G., & Dolan, R. J. (2008). Explaining enhanced logical consistency during decision making in autism. The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 28, 10746–10750. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2895-08.2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Garrett, N., & Sharot, T. (2016). Optimistic update for positive life events? An unbiased test. Conscious Cogn, In revision.Google Scholar
- Harris, A. J. L., Shah, P., Catmur, C., Bird, G., & Hahn, U. (2013). Autism, optimism and positive events: Evidence against a general optimistic bias. In Proceedings of the 35th annual conference of the cognitive science society, Austin, TX.Google Scholar
- Hautzinger, M., Bailer, M., Worall, H., & Keller, F. (2005). Beck-depressions-inventar (BDI). Bearbeitung der deutschen Ausgabe. Testhandbuch., 2., überarbeitete edn. Bern: Hans Huber, Hogrefe AG.Google Scholar
- Kessler, R. C., et al. (2007). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of mental disorders in the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. World Psychiatry, 6, 168–176.Google Scholar
- Kuzmanovic, B., & Rigoux, L. (2016). Optimistic belief updating deviates from bayesian learning. SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2810063.
- Lefebvre, G., Lebreton, M., Meyniel, F., Bourgeois-Gironde, S., & Palminteri, S. (2016). Asymmetric reinforcement learning: Computational and neural basis of positive life orientation. bioRxiv (not peer-reviewed preprint).Google Scholar
- Pizzagalli, D. A., Iosifescu, D., Hallett, L. A., Ratner, K. G., & Fava, M. (2008). Reduced hedonic capacity in major depressive disorder: Evidence from a probabilistic reward task. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 43, 76–87. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.03.001.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Schmidt, K.-H., & Metzler, P. (1992). Wortschatztest (WST). Weinheim, Beltz Test GmbH.Google Scholar
- Sharot, T., & Garrett, N. (2016). Forming beliefs: Why valence matters. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 25–33. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.11.002.
- Sharot, T., & Garrett, N. (in press). Optimistic Update Bias Holds Firm: Three Tests of Robustness Following Shah et al. Consciousness and Cognition.Google Scholar
- von Aster, M., Neubauer, A., & Horn, R. (Eds.). (2006). Wechsler intelligenztest für Erwachsene WIE. Deutschsprachige Bearbeitung und Adaptation des WAIS-III von David Wechsler. Frankfurt, Pearson Assessment.Google Scholar