Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Lisa Newell

Second Advisor

Laura Knight

Third Advisor

Anson Long


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that presents early in development. Social communication and social interaction deficits are required to make a diagnosis. These deficits make it difficult for individuals with ASD to perceive and/or utilize social cues from an interpersonal exchange when compared to their neurotypical counterparts. Bargaining is a type of interpersonal exchange that requires anticipating the actions of others (Nash, 1950). The current study compared bargaining behaviors in individuals with ASD to typically-developing (TD) individuals by having both groups act as responders to 40 trials of the Ultimatum Game. The Ultimatum Game is an economic game in which a proposer offers a certain number of tokens to the participant, requiring them to accept or reject the offer (Güth, Schmittberger, & Schwarze, 1982).

A total of 33 participants played against eight images of four different faces that they were told were their opponents. Each participant was presented with images of both a happy and angry face at different token offers (one through five out of ten) to see the effect facial expression had on acceptance rates at each offer level. No differences in game behavior, measured by acceptance rates between groups were found between the ASD and TD groups. However, results did support an effect of offer and facial expression on response rates in both groups. Specifically, both groups were more likely to accept higher offers and offers from proposers with happy faces. Additionally, contrary to hypotheses, results show that participants with ASD were not significantly more likely to accept unfair offers when compared to TD participants. Possible explanations for these results, along with limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.