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Can the Five Factor Model of Personality Account for the Variability of Autism Symptom Expression? Multivariate Approaches to Behavioral Phenotyping in Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

The present study aimed to: determine the extent to which the five factor model of personality (FFM) accounts for variability in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptomatology in adults, examine differences in average FFM personality traits of adults with and without ASD and identify distinct behavioral phenotypes within ASD. Adults (N = 828; nASD = 364) completed an online survey with an autism trait questionnaire and an FFM personality questionnaire. FFM facets accounted for 70 % of variance in autism trait scores. Neuroticism positively correlated with autism symptom severity, while extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness negatively correlated with autism symptom severity. Four FFM subtypes emerged within adults with ASD, with three subtypes characterized by high neuroticism and none characterized by lower-than-average neuroticism.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by an award from the Philip and Aida Siff Educational Foundation.

Author contributions

BS and JW conceived of the study and SK participated in its design, BS coordinated and conducted the study, then performed the measurement and statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript; BS and JW participated in the interpretation of the data; SK and JW participated in editing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Schwartzman, B.C., Wood, J.J. & Kapp, S.K. Can the Five Factor Model of Personality Account for the Variability of Autism Symptom Expression? Multivariate Approaches to Behavioral Phenotyping in Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 46, 253–272 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2571-x

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Keywords

  • Five factor model of personality
  • Adults with autism
  • Autism
  • Big 5
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Subtypes of autism