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Mechanisms of social influence : reputation management in typical and autistic individuals

Cage, Eilidh Alison (2015) Mechanisms of social influence : reputation management in typical and autistic individuals. PhD thesis, UCL Institute of Education.

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Abstract

Other people greatly influence behaviour – a phenomenon known as social influence. One reason people change their behaviour when others are present is to manage their reputation. Individuals with autism have social and communicative difficulties, which may result in difficulties in reputation management. This thesis aimed to examine reputation management in autistic individuals, the development of reputation management, and the cognitive mechanisms underpinning reputation management. In Chapter Two, autistic adults managed their reputation in a donation task when it was explicitly clear that they should manage it. Despite this ability, the autistic adults demonstrated a reduced propensity for reputation management, which results suggested was due to low expectations of reciprocity. In Chapters Three and Four, reputation management and potential mechanisms – theory of mind, social motivation, reciprocity, and inhibitory control – were examined in typical children aged 6 to 14. Two forms of reputation management were tested: an automatic or implicit form and a deliberate or explicit form. Implicit reputation management appeared in adolescence, while explicit reputation management occurred at 8-years-old. Theory of mind and social motivation underpinned explicit reputation management. In Chapters Five and Six, autistic children did not implicitly manage their reputation, although some were able to do so explicitly. Autistic children who were fairer and more sensitive to reciprocity were more likely to explicitly manage reputation. None of the suggested mechanisms underpinned implicit reputation management in either typical or autistic children. Finally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with autistic adolescents and school staff (Chapter Seven). Thematic analysis showed that autistic adolescents were concerned about their reputation; however, many preferred to stay true to themselves rather than appear “cool”. Overall, this thesis noted autistic individuals do have the ability to manage reputation, yet there was variation in this ability, due to a number of factors. These results suggest autistic individuals are not completely immune to social influence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Departments > Psychology and Human Development
Depositing User: Mr Julian Zerfahs
Date Deposited: 15 May 2015 14:05
Last Modified: 21 May 2015 14:29
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