Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 8, pp 2587–2598 | Cite as

Self-Disorders in Individuals with Autistic Traits: Contribution of Reduced Autobiographical Reasoning Capacities

  • Fabrice Berna
  • Anja S. Göritz
  • Johanna Schröder
  • Romain Coutelle
  • Jean-Marie Danion
  • Christine V. Cuervo-Lombard
  • Steffen Moritz
Original Paper


The present web-based study (N = 840) aimed to illuminate the cognitive mechanisms underlying self-disorders in autism. Initially, participants selected three self-defining memories. Then, we assessed their capacity to give meaning to these events (i.e., meaning making), their tendency to scrutinize autobiographical memory to better understand themselves (i.e., self-continuity function of autobiographical memory) and their clarity of self-concept. The results showed that individuals with high autistic traits (ATs) had a lower clarity of self-concept than control participants. Meaning making was also reduced in AT individuals and mediated the relation between AT and self-concept clarity. Our results suggest that the reduced clarity of self-concept in AT individuals is related to an impaired capacity to make meaning of important past life events.


Self Autism Autobiographical reasoning Autobiographical memory 



We are grateful to the Agence Régionale de Santé, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg and the Fondation FondaMental that financially supported FB’s post-doctoral position in Hamburg.

Author Contribution

FB and SM designed the study and wrote the first complete draft of the manuscript. ASG is responsible for the Wiso-Panel network. FB and JS performed the statistical analyses. All authors provided substantial modifications to the manuscript and approved its final version.


FB has received financial support from Agence Régionale de Santé, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg and Fondation FondaMental for his post-doctoral position in Hamburg.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

FB has received a speaker honorarium from Astra Zeneca, Lundbeck, Janssen-Cilag, and Bristo-Meyers-Squibb. ASG, JS, RC, JMD, CVCL, SM declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Occupational and Consumer PsychologyFreiburg UniversityFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.INSERM U-1114, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg, Fédération de Médecine Translationnelle de StrasbourgUniversité de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance
  4. 4.Fondation FondaMentalCréteilFrance
  5. 5.Département de PsychiatrieCentre Hospitalier Universitaire de ReimsReimsFrance
  6. 6.UFR de PsychologieUniversité de Toulouse 2 Jean JaurèsToulouseFrance

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