Earlier on this blog, I’ve written about how being autistic can lead to misunderstandings and how others can form inaccurate moral judgments based on those. I more than welcome any new reader to browse my website and also share any content they find worthy of sharing. Yet, for this article, I will expound upon the phenomenon probably most troubling with regards to the moral judgments of my people and that is simply the negative slant that people interpret outgroups with, especially outgroups seen to be of a lower social status.
For those on the higher end of the spectrum, we do not possess the perceived innocence or have the excuses of those on the lower end. Those on the lower end have a myriad of problems that we don’t and, indeed, far more of them. Yet, their problems are so indiscrete that they are treated, more or less, with perpetual pity. I know this from personal experience since I have not always been as high functioning as I am and the transition from mid to high was the transition from being a cute “retard” to be a weirdo.
The latter is of great interest since I was not guilty of any grevious crime against anyone. I certainly won’t claim ethical perfection in how I have dealt with people but whatever sins I have committed, they have not been greater in gravity or number than the average of humanity. In terms of the traditional vices, I am mostly completely devoid as I have for all my life abstained from alcohol, recreational drugs, and the pursuit of sex. I am, however, different and also different in certain ways that do not engender the most sympathetic sentiments in my direction.
The nature of my differences insofar as they make me less sympathetic mostly regard my being percieved as weak. I’m an effeminate straight male and even my straightness lacks balls, I’m a heteroromantic asexual. There is a reason that one can talk about rape and sexual assault in polite discourse but masturbation and virginity are taboo. I’m more than willing to let people know I’m a virgin and the fact people tell me it’s inappropriate to mention is a social rule that makes no sense to me and which I intend to disobey. The point is though, that the sexual topics that relate to percieved weakness are too creepy to mention while far worse things are okay to converse about.
Deeper voices, confidence, and the other signals of masculinity and success are what make a man feel more morally upright to society. Jocks may be stereotypical bullies but society still thinks the people who look, act, and speak like Ken are more moral than someone who does not possess the same masculinity or confidence. This all flows from a cognitive bias that skews people toward morally preferring the successful to the not. It’s creepy to talk about masturbation and not creepy to talk about rape because the former signifies social failure and thus moral failure.
Click to access 4_J_Personality_Social_Psychology_203_(Lerner).pdf
Added to the moral perception that someone whose mannerisms would suggest less social success are of looser ethics is the fact that whatever situation someone finds themselves in if they are in the outgroup, they are at a serious disadvantage. Before on this blog I have complained about the effects of oxytocin and one of the reasons is that oxytocin causes tighter ingroup bonding and stronger outgroup prejudice. It is a phenomenon which causes people to view with curiosity and be predisposed to view with scorn and malice people who are merely different regardless of what that difference is.
Another important point to make is while all of this, the lack of outward attributes associated with success and the being inherrently different leading to irrational and baseless ostracism more greatly affect the autistic community, they are easily cognitive sins committed by members of that community. Less so, certainly, due to fewer socialized subconscious traits forged by peer pressure and less oxytocin, generally. I get along better with fellow ASDs but there is a subset that is, actuually, worse when it comes to these things. Worse because they are more strongly influenced by the biases and emotions they have developed on their own and if you cross those, they’ll react worse than average.
Autistic life can easily be a world where one is the bad guy too often when no crime has been committed. Where one can attempt to live a noble and benevolent life and yet all of those virtues are ignored and vices one does not even possess become the basis for one’s character assessment by the less than self-aware people who are blindly influenced by their subconscious biases. One of my greatest wishes is that my character and the characters of everyone else be judged for their moral truth and nothing else. Whether or not they are truly good people and not the degree to which they can satisfy the amoral expectations of their culture.
One thought on “Villian Without a Reason: Outgroup Bias and Autistic Life”
Noble is a man that is honest with who he sees in the mirror.
You are honest with who you are. You have my respect because of it.