Innovation through neurodiversity: Diversity is beneficial

Harriet Axbey*, Nadin Beckmann, Sue Fletcher-Watson, Alisdair Tullo, Catherine Crompton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Those experiencing high rapport or strong social connection are more likely to copy eachother, or emulate eachother’s ideas, either consciously or sub-consciously. In this study we use this phenomenon to examine whether neurotype match or mis-match impacts degree of imitation in a creative task. We asked 71 participants in neurodiverse pairs (including both autistic and non-autistic participants) and single neurotype pairs (both autistic or both non-autistic), where one participant builds and one observes, to build the tallest possible tower from dried spaghetti and plasticine. We measured the height of each tower and photographed them to create a stimulus set. We then asked independent raters (n= 351, 62 autistic) to rate towers in for degree of similarity. We hypothesised that lower similarity scores would be generated for towers created by people in neurodiverse pairs, showing positive innovation. Results showed towers built in the neurodiverse condition had least similarity, whereas towers built in the autistic, and non-autistic conditions were significantly more similar. There was no difference in performance (height of tower) based on condition. Our results are the first to examine creativity within single-neurotype and neurodiverse pairs; they indicate that neurological diversity may be beneficial within a group setting. Subsequent research is required to examine how this interacts with divergent communication styles.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date7 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Autism
  • Diffusion Chains
  • Neurodiversity
  • Innovation
  • Creativity


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