eISSN: 2353-561X
ISSN: 2353-4192
Current Issues in Personality Psychology
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2/2020
vol. 8
 
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abstract:
Original paper

Autistic traits, adolescence, and anti-social peer pressure

Diarmuid Verrier
1
,
Sabrina Halton
1
,
Matthew Robinson
1

1.
Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Current Issues in Personality Psychology, 8(2), 131–138
Online publish date: 2020/04/08
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Background
The potential role of autism as a moderator of conformity has recently been investigated by a small number of studies. However, as yet, no consensus has emerged as to whether autism or autistic traits can moderate the degree to which people attend to and are influenced by social pressure, nor whether there are specific circum-stances under which this might occur. The current study adds to this ambiguous literature by looking at whether autism and autistic traits are associated with conformity in the context of adolescent peer pressure.

Participants and procedure
A sample of 12-16 year old students completed questionnaire measures of peer conformity (e.g., in relation to smoking, skipping school, etc.), resistance to peer influence, and autistic traits. Approximately half had an au-tism-related diagnosis, and none had an intellectual impairment.

Results
Controlling for age, gender, and academic ability, we found that degree of autistic traits was associated with reduced peer conformity, while a diagnosis of autism was not. In contrast, neither autism nor autistic traits were related to resistance to peer influence.

Conclusions
These results are contextualised in terms of past research and positioned within a broader model of individual differences and conformity in which autistic traits moderate the degree to which a person perceives peer influ-ence, while resistance to peer influence moderates the degree to which one conforms to peer influence. Possi-ble future avenues of inquiry are suggested.

keywords:

adolescence; conformity; peer pressure; autistic traits

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