What About the Other Side of Double Empathy? A Response to Alkhaldi, Sheppard and Mitchell’s JADD Article Concerning Mind-Reading Difficulties in Autism

  • Nick ChownEmail author
  • Liz Hughes
  • Joanna Baker-Rogers
Letter to the Editor

This interesting article by Alkhaldi et al. (2019) on one side of double empathy, reports that non-autistic “perceivers” rated autistic “targets” lower for social favourability (likeability) in each of four scenarios (being met by an experimenter with compliments, a story or a joke or being made to wait) than they rated non-autistic targets. The researchers also measured target readability and say there is an association between readability and social favourability. They then discuss the possible reasons for all this. Whilst the authors mention Milton’s (2012) double empathy hypothesis, they did not study autistic perceiver ratings of non-autistic targets.

The double empathy hypothesis states that neurotypical people have difficulty empathising with autistic people in the same way that autistic people have difficulty empathising with neurotypical people. Underlying this hypothesis is the view that these difficulties arise from inter-neurotype communication, not from autism being a type...



  1. Alkhaldi, R. S., Sheppard, E. and Mitchell, P. (2019). Is there a link between autistic people being perceived unfavorably and having a mind that is difficult to read?, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Retrieved June 16, 2019, from
  2. Edey, R., Cook, J., Brewer, R., Johnson, M. H., Bird, G., & Press, C. (2016). Interaction takes two: Typical adults exhibit mind-blindness towards those with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(7), 879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Milton, D. E. (2012). On the ontological status of autism: The ‘double empathy problem’. Disability & Society, 27(6), 883–887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent Autism Research GroupSheffieldUK

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