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Dilemmas and Bargains: Autism, Theory-of-Mind, Cooperation and Fairness

Elisabeth Hill

University College London - Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

David F. Sally


Mentalising is assumed to be involved in decision-making that is necessary to social interaction. We investigated the relationship between mentalising and two types of strategic games - those involving the choice to cooperate with another for joint gain or compete for own gain and those involving bargaining and division of a surplus - in children and adults with and without autistic spectrum disorders. The results suggest that strategic responses in the first type of game, the well-known prisoner's dilemma, are associated with mentalising ability. In contrast, generosity in bargaining tasks did not depend upon mentalising skills, but initial strategically unequal offers did. These two essential social games appeared to be differentially compensated for in high-functioning individuals with autistic spectrum disorders.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 74

Keywords: autism, game theory, bargaining, cooperation, dilemmas, theory-of-mind, experiments

JEL Classification: C72, C78, Z13, A12

working papers series

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Date posted: July 16, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Hill, Elisabeth and Sally, David F., Dilemmas and Bargains: Autism, Theory-of-Mind, Cooperation and Fairness. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=407040 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.407040

Contact Information

Elisabeth Hill (Contact Author)
University College London - Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience ( email )
17 Queen Square
London WC1N 3AR
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7679 1177 (Phone)
David Sally
Feedback to SSRN

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References:  81
Citations:  5

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