Neurodivergent brains may be less vulnerable to the framing effect, which is the way that context can influence choices. Advertisers use this concept to sway consumer purchase decisions. For example, potential buyers are more likely to select toothpaste that’s recommended by “9 out of 10” dentists. However, if the box reads “only 10% of dentists don’t recommend this product,” it loses its appeal. Because neurodivergent brains tend to be more logical and less emotional about making decisions, the framing effect may not have as much impact on the choices they make.
Other research from 2016 suggests that this decreased emotional decision-making may be a part of alexithymia, which is a reduced ability to understand or recognize emotions. Only about half of autistic people have alexithymia. Alexithymia is connected to interoception, or internal body awareness, which can also affect a person’s decision-making. If you’ve ever noticed your heart rate increase or felt butterflies in your stomach, you’ve experienced interoception. Interoceptive accuracy (IA) is associated with emotion-based reasoning. People with alexithymia have less IA, but not all neurodivergent brains experience this. Research shows that neurodivergent brains without alexithymia have intact IA and can make intuitive decisions. Much like allistic people, neurodivergent brains have a range of thinking styles. You might have alexithymia and consider logical ability to be your superpower. You could have IA and be more intuitive. Or you might be somewhere in between.
Focused interest, also referred to as “restricted interest,” is a common neurodivergent brain talent for detail, which makes the individual a topic specialist or subject matter expert. It may mean you sometimes overwhelm your friends with information about your favorite pastime, but it also can be a vocational advantage if you find a career in your chosen field of expertise.