Autism Spectrum Conditions Affect Preferences in Valued Personal Possessions

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Although autism has been characterized as a disorder, certain selective advantages of autism have been identified that 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 behaviors in the distant past, however. Here we present the results of an analysis of the relationship between the 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 while less advantageous in others in the distant evolutionary past.

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