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10.02.2020 | Research Paper Open Access

The Association Between Autistic Traits and Mental Well-Being

Journal of Happiness Studies
Nikolas J. Stimpson, Laura Hull, William Mandy
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It is now accepted that sub-clinical autistic traits are continuously distributed in the general population. It appears that there has been no prior research on the relationship between autistic traits and mental well-being. We explored the nature of such a relationship using multiple regression models. 227 non-clinical adults aged 18–50 years completed an online self-report questionnaire with measures including the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale and the Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAPQ). Of the BAPQ subscales, aloofness (social anhedonia) but not rigidity or pragmatic language problems was associated with decreased mental well-being when controlling for extraversion, neuroticism, depression, and self-reported physical health. This association was partially mediated by crisis support (the number of people a respondent felt they could turn to for help in the event of a serious personal crisis). The results suggest that aloofness is a significant negative predictor of mental well-being, and that autistic traits might not be best represented as a single unitary factor in the context of outcomes related to mental well-being. Implications pertaining to the importance of social support and the possible contributing role of low self-perceived social competence to aloofness are discussed.

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