High functioning autism spectrum disorders: an investigation of psychological vulnerabilities during interrogative interview

Alice North, Ailsa J Russell, Gisli Gudjonsson

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66 Citations (SciVal)


Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are commonly asked to ascertain the reliability of statements made by suspects to the police during questioning and to assess an individual's vulnerability to providing information which is inaccurate, unreliable, and misleading during police interview. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterised by qualitative impairments in social communication and interaction, and a restricted or repetitive pattern of behaviours, interests, and activities. It is not clear whether people with ASD are more vulnerable at interview, or more prone to respond negatively to interrogative pressure, when compared with the general population. In the present study, 26 individuals with high functioning ASD, and 27 gender- and IQ-matched controls, were compared on measures of interrogative suggestibility and compliance as well as on measures of anxiety, depression, the extent to which they feared negative evaluation by others, and whether they had a suspicious outlook. There were no significant between-group differences on the measures of suggestibility, but the group with ASD were rated as significantly more compliant than the controls in terms of both parental and self-report, and also had higher scores on measures of depression, anxiety, fear of negative social evaluation and paranoia. Bi-modal distribution of suggestibility scores within the ASD group indicates that individual characteristics should be taken into account when considering an assessment. Individuals with ASD may be more eager to please or to avoid conflict and confrontation than controls, and may be more prone to respond compliantly to requests and demands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-334
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


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