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Sex and STEM occupation predict Autism-spectrum Quotient (AQ) scores in half a million people

Ruzich, E., Allison, C., Chakrabarti, B., Smith, P., Musto, H., Ring, H. and Baron-Cohen, S. (2015) Sex and STEM occupation predict Autism-spectrum Quotient (AQ) scores in half a million people. PLoS ONE, 10 (10). e0141229. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141229

Abstract/Summary

This study assesses Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) scores in a ‘big data’ sample collected through the UK Channel 4 television website, following the broadcasting of a medical education program. We examine correlations between the AQ and age, sex, occupation, and UK geographic region in 450,394 individuals. We predicted that age and geography would not be correlated with AQ, whilst sex and occupation would have a correlation. Mean AQ for the total sample score was m = 19.83 (SD = 8.71), slightly higher than a previous systematic review of 6,900 individuals in a non-clinical sample (mean of means = 16.94) This likely reflects that this big-data sample includes individuals with autism who in the systematic review score much higher (mean of means = 35.19). As predicted, sex and occupation differences were observed: on average, males (m = 21.55, SD = 8.82) scored higher than females (m = 18.95; SD = 8.52), and individuals working in a STEM career (m = 21.92, SD = 8.92) scored higher than individuals non-STEM careers (m = 18.92, SD = 8.48). Also as predicted, age and geographic region were not meaningfully correlated with AQ. These results support previous findings relating to sex and STEM careers in the largest set of individuals for which AQ scores have been reported and suggest the AQ is a useful self-report measure of autistic traits

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Research Network
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Cognition Research (CCR)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:45171
Publisher:Public Library of Science

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