Intolerance of Uncertainty and Challenges in Decision-making in Adults with High-Functioning Autism



Individuals with high-functioning autism have difficulties in decision-making in face of incomplete or ambiguous information, particularly in the context of social interaction. Tasks demanding an immediate response or deviation from the usual behavior make them feel excessive anxiety which restricts their social and professional activity. Attempts to camouflage their conservatism to others are one of the risk factors for comorbid depression. Therefore, they avoid new and non-routine situations, thus restricting their own social activity and professional development. On the other hand, insisting on sameness and clarity may give individuals with autism an advantage in long-lasting monotonous tasks. The aim of this review is to consider these symptoms from the perspective of predictive coding. A range of experimental studies has shown that most of the subjects with autism have difficulty in predicting the outcomes based on the cumulative history of interacting with the environment, as well as updating expectations as new evidence becomes available. These peculiarities of the analysis and pragmatic weighting of information may cause the trait intolerance of uncertainty and novelty avoidance of most people with autism.

General Information

Keywords: autism spectrum disorders, high-functioning autism, decision-making, metacognitive abilities, social motivation, the value system of perception, internal predicting model of the environment

Journal rubric: Theoretical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The study was funded by the Russian Science Foundation grant no. 20-18-00252.

Received: 05.06.2022


For citation: Kozunova G.L., Novikov A.Yu., Stroganova T.A., Chernyshev B.V. Intolerance of Uncertainty and Challenges in Decision-making in Adults with High-Functioning Autism [Elektronnyi resurs]. Klinicheskaia i spetsial'naia psikhologiia = Clinical Psychology and Special Education, 2022. Vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 30–69. DOI: 10.17759/cpse.2022110402. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Galina L. Kozunova, PhD in Psychology, Centre for Neuro-Cognitive Studies (MEG-center), Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Artem Y. Novikov, Psychiatrist, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Tatyana A. Stroganova, Doctor of Biology, Professor, Head of MEG Center, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Boris V. Chernyshev, PhD in Biology, Head of Center for Neurocognitive Research (MEG-Center), Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Associate Professor of the Department of Higher Nervous Activity, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail: