Public Perception of Autism Treatments: The Role of Credibility and Evidence

  • Veronica P. FleuryEmail author
  • Greg Trevors
  • Panayiota Kendeou


We explored the influence of credibility and evidence on public perceptions of ASD treatments using survey methodology. Participants (N = 379) read texts about different ASD treatments. The text presentation was based on a 2 × 2 within-subjects factorial design with treatment status [evidence based practices (EBP) vs. non-EBP] and source credibility in the text (credible vs. non-credible) as the independent variables. An instructional manipulation condition served as a between subjects factor. Respondents were more familiar with non-EBPs than EBPs, but viewed EBPs as being more credible and were more likely to endorse them compared to pseudoscientific practices. Interactions between source credibility and instructional manipulation were found on ratings of credibility and recommendation of both EBP and non-EBP texts. Implications of these findings are discussed.


Autism spectrum disorder Evidence-based practices Pseudoscience Public knowledge Knowledge revision Survey 



We wish to gratefully acknowledge assistance provided by the research staff Andrea Boh, Amy Shields, Ashley German, Daniel Earixson, David Edward, Kasey Michel, Keri Mikkelson, Laura Janzen, Leila Jones, Limin Wang, Pang Chaxiong, Reese Butterfuss, Sarah Rosen, and Tara Kulkarni.

Author Contributions

VPF conceived of the original idea for the study. All authors contributed to the study design. VPF lead study planning, training, and supervision of data collection. GT conducted data analyses. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.


This study was funded through awards granted by the Office of International Initiatives and Relations and the Office for Research and Policy at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Teacher EducationFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational StudiesUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Educational PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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