Empathy ?

The standard medical picture of us has said we lack empathy. It implies supposed to find it harder to connect with another person's emotional level. But who has judged how well we connect, from whose point of view? - NT society, in perceiving how well it gets on with us. A member picked up this item from reading of Edinburgh uni research: this suggests we don't lack empathy at all!

 

They did a Chinese Whispers experiment, where a series of folks had to pass on some info to each other one by one and in an organised order, so they could measure where the worst info loss ("degradation") happened. They compared how it worked out in 3 different sets: between a series of autistics, a series of NTs, and a mixed series where autistics and NTs alternated. After it they questionnaired the participants on how they felt towards each other, how easy they found it to tell or receive the info, and character perceptions affecting it. Personal empathy, character connection, basically not seeing the other person as shifty or a weirdo, was needed for easy transmission and not getting degradation of the details.

 

The autistic chain, of us communicating with each other, did just as well as the NT chain. We empathised with each other more reliably than the NTs, we were not shown to lack empathy at all! But it is significant where the communication came out worst - between us and the NTs, in the mixed chain. NT personal impressions of the autistic person next in the chain were the lowest, wariest, least empathic. The 2 did not connect, get how to tell each other info with enough mutual understanding not to have to make a lot of rewordings that lost some of the info, to get it across. 

 

That fits with how NTs have perceived their encounters with us. It suggests that we got labelled as lacking empathy outright because empathy is harder to achieve between NT and autistic, for both sides: between different ways of thinking. Both sides mind-connect with, hence achieve empathy with, their own, more readily than with each other. It's the difference of ways of thinking that creates that mismatch. The more numerically dominant and socially judgmental of the 2 populations, when it came to describe the other, did not see how we did with each other, they saw how we did with them, and assumed it was how we did with society as a whole. They judged a deficiency in us, where really was the mismatch between the 2 types of thinking when they met.

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