Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 11, pp 2569–2583 | Cite as

A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Autistic Traits in the UK, India and Malaysia

  • Megan Freeth
  • Elizabeth Sheppard
  • Rajani Ramachandran
  • Elizabeth Milne
Original Paper


The disorder of autism is widely recognised throughout the world. However, the diagnostic criteria and theories of autism are based on research predominantly conducted in Western cultures. Here we compare the expression of autistic traits in a sample of neurotypical individuals from one Western culture (UK) and two Eastern cultures (India and Malaysia), using the Autism-spectrum Quotient (AQ) in order to identify possible cultural differences in the expression of autistic traits. Behaviours associated with autistic traits were reported to a greater extent in the Eastern cultures than the Western culture. Males scored higher than females and science students scored higher than non-science students in each culture. Indian students scored higher than both other groups on the Imagination sub-scale, Malaysian students scored higher than both other groups on the Attention Switching sub-scale. The underlying factor structures of the AQ for each population were derived and discussed.


Culture Autistic traits Western Eastern India Malaysia UK 



MF was supported by a fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan Freeth
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Sheppard
    • 2
  • Rajani Ramachandran
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Milne
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of Nottingham Malaysia CampusSemenyihMalaysia
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CalicutMalappuramIndia

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