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      Specificity, contexts, and reference groups matter when assessing autistic traits

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          Abstract

          Many of the personality and behavioral traits (e.g., social imperviousness, directness in conversation, lack of imagination, affinity for solitude, difficulty displaying emotions) that are known to be sensitive to context (with whom? ) and reference group (according to whom? ) also appear in questionnaire-based assessments of autistic traits. Therefore, two experiments investigated the effects of specifying contexts and reference groups when assessing autistic traits in autistic and non-autistic participants. Experiment 1 (124 autistic and 124 non-autistic participants) demonstrated that context matters when assessing autistic traits ( F(1,244) = 267.5, p < .001, η 2 p = .523). When the context of the Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire was specified as the participants’ out-group (e.g., “I like being around non-autistic people” or “I like being around autistic people”), both autistic and non-autistic participants self-reported having more autistic traits; when the context was specified as the participants’ in-group, participants reported having fewer autistic traits. Experiment 2 (82 autistic and 82 non-autistic participants) demonstrated that reference group matters when assessing autistic traits ( F(2,160) = 94.38, p < .001, η 2 p = .541). When the reference group on the Social Responsiveness Scale was specified as the participants’ out-group (e.g., “According to non-autistic people, I have unusual eye contact”), autistic participants reported having more autistic traits; when the reference group was their in-group, autistic participants reported having fewer autistic traits. Non-autistic participants appeared insensitive to reference group on the Social Responsiveness Scale. Exploratory analyses suggested that when neither the context nor the reference group is specified (for assessing autistic traits on the Autism-Spectrum Quotient), both autistic and non-autistic participants use the majority (“non-autistic people”) as the implied context and reference group.

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          Most cited references 48

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          What's wrong with cross-cultural comparisons of subjective Likert scales?: The reference-group effect.

          Social comparison theory maintains that people think about themselves compared with similar others. Those in one culture, then, compare themselves with different others and standards than do those in another culture, thus potentially confounding cross-cultural comparisons. A pilot study and Study 1 demonstrated the problematic nature of this reference-group effect: Whereas cultural experts agreed that East Asians are more collectivistic than North Americans, cross-cultural comparisons of trait and attitude measures failed to reveal such a pattern. Study 2 found that manipulating reference groups enhanced the expected cultural differences, and Study 3 revealed that people from different cultural backgrounds within the same country exhibited larger differences than did people from different countries. Cross-cultural comparisons using subjective Likert scales are compromised because of different reference groups. Possible solutions are discussed.
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            Who knows what about a person? The self-other knowledge asymmetry (SOKA) model.

             Simine Vazire (2010)
            This article tests a new model for predicting which aspects of personality are best judged by the self and which are best judged by others. Previous research suggests an asymmetry in the accuracy of personality judgments: Some aspects of personality are known better to the self than others and vice versa. According to the self-other knowledge asymmetry (SOKA) model presented here, the self should be more accurate than others for traits low in observability (e.g., neuroticism), whereas others should be more accurate than the self for traits high in evaluativeness (e.g., intellect). In the present study, 165 participants provided self-ratings and were rated by 4 friends and up to 4 strangers in a round-robin design. Participants then completed a battery of behavioral tests from which criterion measures were derived. Consistent with SOKA model predictions, the self was the best judge of neuroticism-related traits, friends were the best judges of intellect-related traits, and people of all perspectives were equally good at judging extraversion-related traits. The theoretical and practical value of articulating this asymmetry is discussed. Copyright 2009 APA, all rights reserved
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              Intergenerational transmission of subthreshold autistic traits in the general population.

              Autistic disorder (AD) is a disabling oligogenic condition characterized by severe social impairment. Subthreshold autistic social impairments are known to aggregate in the family members of autistic probands; therefore, we conducted this study to examine the intergenerational transmission of such traits in the general population. The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), a quantitative measure of autistic traits, was completed on 285 pairs of twins (by maternal report) and on their parents (by spouse report). Correlation for social impairment or competence between parents and their children and between spouses was on the order of .4. In families in which both parents scored in the upper quartile for social impairment on the SRS, mean SRS score of offspring was significantly elevated (effect size 1.5). Estimated assortative mating explained approximately 30% of the variation in parent SRS scores. Children from families in which both parents manifest subthreshold autistic traits exhibit a substantial shift in the distribution of their scores for impairment in reciprocal social behavior, toward the pathological end. As has been previously demonstrated in children, heritable subthreshold autistic impairments are measurable in adults and appear continuously distributed in the general population.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                13 February 2017
                2017
                : 12
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America
                [2 ]Department of Psychology, Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, United States of America
                [3 ]Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
                Nagoya Mental Clinic, JAPAN
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                • Conceptualization: SD.

                • Data curation: JLS MAG.

                • Formal analysis: JLS.

                • Funding acquisition: MAG.

                • Investigation: MAG JLS SD.

                • Methodology: MAG JLS SD.

                • Visualization: MAG.

                • Writing – original draft: MAG.

                • Writing – review & editing: JLS SD.

                Article
                PONE-D-16-38705
                10.1371/journal.pone.0171931
                5305234
                28192464
                © 2017 Gernsbacher et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 8, Tables: 4, Pages: 30
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: Vilas Trust
                Award Recipient :
                This work was supported by the Vilas Trust, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Developmental Psychology
                Pervasive Developmental Disorders
                Autism Spectrum Disorder
                Autism
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Developmental Psychology
                Pervasive Developmental Disorders
                Autism Spectrum Disorder
                Autism
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Developmental Neuroscience
                Neurodevelopmental Disorders
                Autism
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Neurology
                Neurodevelopmental Disorders
                Autism
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Communications
                Social Communication
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Psychometrics
                Personality Tests
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Psychometrics
                Personality Tests
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Behavior
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Personality
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Personality
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Behavior
                Verbal Behavior
                Verbal Communication
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Personality
                Personality Traits
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Personality
                Personality Traits
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Research Design
                Survey Research
                Questionnaires
                Custom metadata
                All data are available from the OSF repository DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/WJDEP and ARK c7605/osf.io/wjdep.

                Uncategorized

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