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Previous research indicates that autistic individuals are more likely to be bullied, and that they experience heightened anxiety and diminished self-esteem. These factors are known to predict heightened compliance, which is the tendency to agree with or carry out the requests and demands of others. This has a range of potentially serious consequences, particularly for an autistic person. The present study utilised selfreport (the Gudjonsson Compliance Scale, GCS) and behavioural measures of compliance (the Door-in-the-Face task, DITF) with 26 autistic and 26 typically developing (TD) adults. Participants also completed measures of early life bullying experiences, anxiety and self-esteem. Autistic participants were more compliant on both self-report and experimental tasks, and they reported more bullying experiences, higher anxiety and reduced self-esteem. Looking at both groups, bullying, anxiety and self-esteem were all correlated with self-reported compliance on the GCS, yet only self-esteem was a unique predictor. None of these predictor variables related to behavioural compliance on the DITF; nor did GCS scores predict DITF performance, which may be better explained by situational and motivational factors. Findings have important implications for a range of real-life settings including requests made in the context of research, schools, the criminal justice system, and the workplace.
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