Romantic attachment, empathy, and the broader autism phenotype among college students

  • Lamport D
  • Turner L
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Abstract

Recent research suggests that mild autistic-like characteristics can be measured among relatives of individuals with autism and in the general population. These characteristics have been referred to as the broader autism phenotype (BAP), and include pragmatic language difficulties, aloofness, and rigidity. Evidence is growing to suggest that individuals with BAP encounter difficulties in their social interactions. Recent work demonstrates that college students scoring high on the BAP report more loneliness (Jobe & Williams White, 2007) and more interpersonal problems (Wainer, Ingersoll, & Hopwood, 2012). Because intimate relationships are important in development and are very salient in emerging adulthood, the authors examined the relation of the BAP to romantic attachment and empathy among young adults. Higher BAP scores were associated with lower empathy and higher attachment anxiety and avoidance. Specifically, pragmatic language difficulties were related to higher rates of avoidant attachment and this relationship was mediated by empathy. In contrast, pragmatic language deficits were directly related to anxious attachment. © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Author-supplied keywords

  • broader autism phenotype
  • empathy
  • romantic attachment

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Authors

  • Dustin Lamport

  • Lisa A. Turner

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