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Trait autism is a better predictor of empathy than alexithymia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Punit Shah, Lucy A. Livingston, Mitchell J. Callan, Lois Player

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3956-3964
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number10
Early online date7 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


King's Authors


It has been proposed that atypical empathy in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is due to co-occurring alexithymia. However, difficulties measuring empathy and statistical issues in previous research raise questions about the role of alexithymia in empathic processing in ASD. Addressing these issues, we compared the associations of trait alexithymia and autism with empathy in large samples from the general population. Multiple regression analyses showed that both trait autism and alexithymia were uniquely associated with atypical empathy, but dominance analysis found that trait autism, compared to alexithymia, was a more important predictor of atypical cognitive, affective, and overall empathy. Together, these findings indicate that atypical empathy in ASD is not simply due to co-occurring alexithymia.

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