Empathy, systemizing, and autistic traits in anorexia nervosa: A pilot study

Authors

  • David Hambrook,

    1. Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Section of Eating Disorders, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
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  • Kate Tchanturia,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Section of Eating Disorders, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
      Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Kate Tchanturia, PO59 Section of Eating Disorders, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK (k.tchanturia@iop.kcl.ac.uk).
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  • Ulrike Schmidt,

    1. Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Section of Eating Disorders, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
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  • Tamara Russell,

    1. Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Section of Eating Disorders, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
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  • Janet Treasure

    1. Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Section of Eating Disorders, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
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Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Kate Tchanturia, PO59 Section of Eating Disorders, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK (k.tchanturia@iop.kcl.ac.uk).

Abstract

Objectives

This pilot study examined whether patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) would display an empathizing–systemizing psychometric profile similar to that found in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and whether people with AN would score highly on a measure of autistic traits.

Method

Self-report measures of empathy, systemizing, and autistic traits were administered to 22 female AN patients and 45 female healthy controls (HC).

Results

AN patients and HCs did not differ significantly in their self-reported empathy and systemizing. AN patients scored significantly higher than HCs on the autism-spectrum quotient.

Conclusions

Replication of these findings is required with larger samples and more sensitive measures.

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