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The Children’s Empathy Quotient and Systemizing Quotient: Sex Differences in Typical Development and in Autism Spectrum Conditions

Abstract

Children’s versions of the Empathy Quotient (EQ-C) and Systemizing Quotient (SQ-C) were developed and administered to n = 1,256 parents of typically developing children, aged 4–11 years. Both measures showed good test–retest reliability and high internal consistency. As predicted, girls scored significantly higher on the EQ-C, and boys scored significantly higher on the SQ-C. A further sample of n = 265 children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) scored significantly lower on the EQ-C, and significantly higher on the SQ-C, compared to typical boys. Empathy and systemizing in children show similar patterns of sex differences to those observed in adults. Children with ASC tend towards a ‘hyper-masculinized’ profile, irrespective of sex.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded by a grant from the MRC to SBC and was conducted in association with the NIHR CLAHRC for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and the ENSCAP research network for biomarkers in autism (N-EURO). We are grateful to Nigel Goldenfeld, Jac Billington, Johnny Lawson and Bhismadev Chakrabarti for useful discussions. We are grateful to the families who gave their time to participate in this study. BA was supported by a scholarship from Trinity College, Cambridge.

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Correspondence to Bonnie Auyeung.

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This study was conducted at the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, UK. A portion of this work was submitted in part fulfillment of the degree of B.Sc. in the Department of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University by NS and MA.

The Combined EQ-C and SQ-C

The Combined EQ-C and SQ-C

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Auyeung, B., Wheelwright, S., Allison, C. et al. The Children’s Empathy Quotient and Systemizing Quotient: Sex Differences in Typical Development and in Autism Spectrum Conditions. J Autism Dev Disord 39, 1509 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0772-x

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Keywords

  • Empathizing
  • Systemizing
  • Autism
  • Sex differences