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Plank, I. S.; Traiger, L. S.; Nelson, A. M.; Koehler, J. C.; Lang, S. F.; Tepest, R.; Vogeley, K.; Georgescu, A. L.; Falter-Wagner, C. M. (2023): The role of interpersonal synchrony in forming impressions of autistic and non-autistic adults. Scientific Reports, 13 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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When people meet, they almost instantaneously form an impression of each other. First impressions of character traits and rapport are less favourable when people with autism spectrum condition (ASC) are judged compared to non-autistic people. Little is known about the behavioural differences that drive these altered impressions. In the present study, we investigated the influence of interpersonal synchrony on impression formation of autistic and non-autistic people. Specifically, we used lagged cross-correlations to assess how much each interactant’s motion energy, a measure which can be determined from video recordings, influenced the other interactant’s motion energy. In short, silent clips of dyadic conversations, we asked non-autistic participants to rate their impression of one of the two interactants, which was solely based on the outlines of both interactants. We expected that the amount of leading of the target interactant, their diagnostic status as well as the interaction of these factors would influence impression formation. We found that while the amount of leading had a positive effect on the impressions of non-autistic interactants, this was not true for interactants with ASC. This suggests that interpersonal synchrony of motion energy is one driver of less favourable impressions of autistic compared to non-autistic people.

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