Autism limits strategic thinking after all: A process tracing study of the beauty contest game

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The beauty contest game is widely used to study the determinants of strategic thinking. Here, we examine the role of theory of mind in strategic reasoning by comparing both performance and the reasoning process in participants with autism vs. typically developing controls. Pantelis and Kennedy (2017) reported a surprising lack of difference between answers of participant with autism vs. controls in the game. Here, we study the process rather than just the outcome of reasoning by using a ‘payoff calculator’ with which one can simulate the game’s outcome before answering. We find that control participants play best response to others’ hypothetical choices entered into the calculator, while participants with autism are less strategic, choosing larger answers relative to those attributed to others. However, this difference could not be explained by the differences in the theory of mind between the groups with and without autism.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalThinking and Reasoning
Early online date18 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019