Decoding Boredom, Interest, and Disagreement in Sufferers of Asperger’s Syndrome By Shannon Seay

By: Shannon Seay

This article was based on a study of individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Asperger’s Syndrome is a pervasive development disorder. It is a highly functioning form of autism. People with this have impaired social interactions and they also are very repetitive actions. The study was conducted with 20 Asperger’s participants and 20 neurotypical control participants.These participants were tested to make sure that they did not have an undiagnosed form of Asperger’s. The study was to see if there were major differences in the encoding and decoding processes when it comes to body posture. AS sufferers tend to have problems decoding information that neurotypical people do not. The point of the study was to see if there were any major differences here. There were 2 tasks in this study. Task one was the nonverbal test and task 2 was verbal testing. The four hypothesis being tested were:

1. Make significantly more errors than controls on task 1.

2. Take significantly longer than controls to make responses on task 1.

3. Make significantly more errors than controls on task 2.

4. Take significantly longer than controls to make responses on task 2.

The body postures being tested were boredom, interest, and disagreement. After the study was conducted it showed that there wasn’t much difference between the two sets of people. One major difference was that the AS participants were slower in their speed to pick their choices this is thought to be because AS participants decode in a feature-based way rather than a holistic way that neurotypicals decode in. Another difference is that the AS group could not distinguish boredom as well. This could have something to do with them not completely comprehending boredom themselves. They have issues recognizing boredom and understanding boredom.This a is a huge social disadvantage to the AS group. The study explains that this can make the AS sufferer appear boring and unattractive to other members of society. As individuals are able to encode boredom as what the study calls a “mental state” but they can not label it appropriately. Training is thought to possibly help improve AS individuals to be aware boredom in others. Hypothesis 2, 3, and 4 were confirmed but hypothesis 1 was not.

103757_wb_0243b    Here we see Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a character in Big Bang Theory. This is a character from a popular t.v show that is based on someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.He does not get along well with others and certainly fits what the study talked about being socially disadvantaged. His facial expression is normally emotionless. I highly doubt that this representation shows all aspects of an AS individual but hopefully it will put into perspective what we are discussing here.

I felt that the study was lacking a lot of information, only three postures are studied so I do not feel that the findings are all that relevant to the study of decoding in AS individuals. It also included that some of the AS group also suffered from ADHD. I feel that this could have tainted the findings in that, maybe the ADHD interfered and this was the reason for slow response time. To have finding for this then the control group would need individuals that had ADHD as well.

Another issue that I have here is that by my understanding of the text, decoding is different in each individual. It has so many variables that I am not sure that you could put a group of people together to study to get accurate results. Emotional intelligence plays a large role here as does individual variability. Maturity can play a role in the different ways we encode and decode. With all these variables I can not see a realistic conclusion to this study. I do not think that anything new was found out here. With so many variables involved encoding and decoding I do not know if any study could find a group of AS individuals and a neurotypical group that could give accurate results.


Doody, J. P., & Bull, P. (2011). Asperger’s Syndrome and the Decoding of Boredom, Interest, and Disagreement from Body Posture. Journal Of Nonverbal Behavior, 35(2), 87-100. doi:10.1007/s10919-010-0103-0

Burgoon, J., Guerrero, L., & Floyd, K. (2010). Nonverbal communication. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc..

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