Autism Spectrum Essay

7588 Words Mar 4th, 2015 31 Pages
The Influence of Affective Empathy and Autism
Spectrum Traits on Empathic Accuracy
Marije aan het Rot*, Koen Hogenelst
Department of Psychology and School of Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by interpersonal deficits and has been associated with limited cognitive empathy, which includes perspective taking, theory of mind, and empathic accuracy (EA). The capacity for affective empathy may also be impaired. In the present study we aimed to determine if EA in normally developing individuals with varying levels of autism spectrum traits is moderated by trait affective empathy. Fifty male and fifty female participants (‘perceivers’)
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Funding: The work was supported by the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme Veni from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO, Veni grant 451-09-013 awarded to Dr. aan het Rot). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
* E-mail: m.aan.het.rot@rug.nl
Introduction
The recently published DSM-5 includes diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviors and persistent interpersonal deficits [1]. These symptoms and the underlying traits are thought to exist on a continuum. Individuals varying in autism spectrum traits may range from displaying normal psychosocial functioning to having severe problems in daily life. Autism spectrum traits are generally considered detrimental to daily functioning. However, Baron-Cohen [2] has argued that autism spectrum traits may be costly in some contexts but beneficial in other contexts. Specifically, individuals with these traits may have difficulties interacting with complex emotional beings (e.g., other humans) but exhibit great skill in analyzing abstract, technical, or organizable systems

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