Gender Differences in the First Impressions of Autistic Adults



Cage E & Burton H (2019) Gender Differences in the First Impressions of Autistic Adults. Autism Research, 12 (10), pp. 1495-1504.

Prior research has shown that less favourable first impressions are formed of autistic adults by non‐autistic observers. Autistic females may present differently to autistic males and could engage in more camouflaging behaviours, which could affect these first impressions. However, research has not yet tested for gender differences in the first impressions of autistic adults. In the current study, non‐autistic observers (n = 205) viewed either 10‐sec video clips or text transcripts in the context of a mock job interview by 10 autistic females and 10 autistic males, matched to 10 non‐autistic females and 10 non‐autistic males. They then rated each stimulus on personality traits (e.g., awkwardness) and behavioural intentions (e.g., “I would start a conversation with this person”). Non‐autistic observers were blind to diagnostic status of the individuals in either modality. Results showed that first impressions were less favourable overall of autistic adults in the video modality. Furthermore, autistic females were rated more favourably than autistic males in the video modality across most traits—but autistic females were also rated less favourably than both non‐autistic females and males. Some judgements were also made in the text modality, whereby more favourable first impressions were made of autistic males on the basis of speech content. Understanding the first impressions that both autistic females and males make has important implications for diagnostic services and employment prospects.

first impressions; social evaluation; autistic adults; gender differences

Autism Research: Volume 12, Issue 10

FundersUniversity of London
Publication date31/10/2019
Publication date online09/08/2019
Date accepted by journal26/07/2019

People (1)


Dr Eilidh Cage
Dr Eilidh Cage

Lecturer in Psychology, Psychology