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Sex and Discipline Differences in Empathising, Systemising and Autistic Symptomatology: Evidence from a Student Population



Baron-Cohen’s ((2002) Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6 , 248–255) ‘extreme male brain’ theory of autism is investigated by examining the relationships between theory of mind, central coherence, empathising, systemising and autistic-like symptomatology in typical undergraduates. There were sex differences in the expected directions on all tasks. Differences according to discipline were found only in central coherence. There was no evidence of an association between empathising and systemising. In the second study, performance on the Mechanical Reasoning task was compared with Systemising quotient and the Social Skills Inventory was compared with the Empathising Quotient. Moderate, but not high correlations were found. Findings are broadly consistent with the distinction between empathising and systemising but cast some doubt on the tasks used to measure these abilities.



Journal of Autism and Developmental DisordersSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 1, 2006

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-006-0127-9

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