Visual/verbal-analytic reasoning bias as a function of self-reported autistic-like traits A study of typically developing individuals solving Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices
People with autism spectrum condition (ASC) perform well on Raven’s matrices, a test which loads highly on the general factor in intelligence. However, the mechanisms supporting enhanced performance on the test are poorly understood. Evidence is accumulating that milder variants of the ASC phenotype are present in typically developing individuals, and that those who are further along the autistic-like trait spectrum show similar patterns of abilities and impairments as people with clinically diagnosed ASC. We investigated whether self-reported autistic-like traits in a university student sample, assessed using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ; Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Skinner, et al., 2001), predict performance on Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices. We found that reporting poorer social skills but better attention switching predicted a higher Advanced matrices score overall. DeShon, Chan, and Weissbein (1995) classified Advanced matrices items as requiring a visuospatial, or a verbal-analytic strategy. We hypothesised that higher AQ scores would predict better performance on visuospatial items than on verbal-analytic items. This prediction was confirmed. These results are consistent with the continuum view and can be explained by the enhanced perceptual functioning theory of performance peaks in ASC. The results also confirm a new prediction about Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices performance in people with ASC.