The relationship between subthreshold autistic traits, ambiguous figure perception and divergent thinking

Catherine Susan Best, Shruti Arora, Fiona Porter, Martin Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


This research investigates the paradox of creativity in autism. That is, whether people with subclinical autistic traits have cognitive styles conducive to creativity or whether they are disadvantaged by the implied cognitive and behavioural rigidity of the autism phenotype. The relationship between divergent thinking (a cognitive component of creativity), perception of ambiguous figures, and self-reported autistic traits was evaluated in 312 individuals in a non-clinical sample. High levels of autistic traits were significantly associated with lower fluency scores on the divergent thinking tasks. However autistic traits were associated with high numbers of unusual responses on the divergent thinking tasks. Generation of novel ideas is a prerequisite for creative problem solving and may be an adaptive advantage associated with autistic traits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4064-4073
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number12
Early online date14 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Autism
  • ambiguous figures
  • creativity
  • autistic traits
  • divergent thinking

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