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Exploring the Role of Empathy in Understanding the Social-Cognitive Profile for Individuals Referred for Autism Spectrum Disorders Assessment in Adulthood.

Authors
  • Russ, Victoria1
  • Kovshoff, Hanna2
  • Brown, Tony3
  • Abbott, Patricia3
  • Hadwin, Julie A2
  • 1 Developmental Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, University of Southampton, Southampton, S017 1BJ, UK. [email protected]
  • 2 Developmental Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, University of Southampton, Southampton, S017 1BJ, UK.
  • 3 Autism Diagnostic Research Centre, 9-19 Rose Road, Southampton, SO14 6TE, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
May 01, 2020
Volume
50
Issue
5
Pages
1470–1478
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10803-018-3693-8
PMID: 30051187
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

This study explored the social-cognitive profile of 173 adults referred for an autism assessment. We considered key dimensional traits (autism, empathy and systemising) to understand social cognition in adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition compared with those who were referred for, but did not receive a diagnosis. There were no significant social cognitive differences between groups on measures of emotion recognition and social inference. Adults with a confirmed diagnosis, however, reported fewer empathising traits which were positively associated with social-cognitive understanding. Empathising partially mediated the relationship between diagnostic group and social-cognition. Lower empathising traits in individuals diagnosed in adulthood may be important in understanding challenges with social adaptability. The findings have implications for assessment and highlight the role of empathy in developing social understanding in autism.

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