Who Cares? Revisiting Empathy in Asperger Syndrome
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- Rogers, K., Dziobek, I., Hassenstab, J. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2007) 37: 709. doi:10.1007/s10803-006-0197-8
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A deficit in empathy has consistently been cited as a central characteristic of Asperger syndrome (AS), but previous research on adults has predominantly focused on cognitive empathy, effectively ignoring the role of affective empathy. We administered the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), a multi-dimensional measure of empathy, and the Strange Stories test to 21 adults with AS and 21 matched controls. Our data show that while the AS group scored lower on the measures of cognitive empathy and theory of mind, they were no different from controls on one affective empathy scale of the IRI (empathic concern), and scored higher than controls on the other (personal distress). Therefore, we propose that the issue of empathy in AS should be revisited.