Relationships between sub-clinical autistic traits, cognitve substrates, and social functioning in a typically developing college sample Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Perry, Timothy D.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • The continuum theory of autism argues that the behavioral traits associated with the disorder are normally distributed throughout the population. Studies suggest that these traits can be reliably measured in first-degree relatives of individuals with autism and, more recently, in individuals in the general population. What remains unclear, however, is whether these traits in the general population are associated with similar cognitive and social profiles as those observed in autism. The current study examined associations between autistic traits, cognitive substrates, and social functioning in a group of typically developing college students. Sixty-seven undergraduate participants were recruited to complete self-report measures of autistic traits and social functioning and performance-based measures of theory of mind, executive functioning, and weak central coherence. Data was used to evaluate a model of relationships among these variables in a path analytic model. Results from this study partially supported the continuum hypothesis. Theory of mind was found to be strongly related to social autistic traits and social functioning while executive functioning was associated with non-social autistic traits. Results were also consistent with previous reports of higher endorsement of autistic traits among male participants than female participants and among individuals majoring the physical sciences as opposed to those majoring in the arts and humanities. Implications for the findings with regard to the manner in which autism is conceptualized, studied, and treated are discussed.
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  • In Copyright
  • Penn, David L.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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