The Relationship between Autistic Characteristics, Social Engagement and Executive Function in a typical sample


Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


This study represents a first attempt to examine in a non-clinical population the interplay between social engagement, executive function and Theory of Mind within a social motivation theory framework.
One hundred and seventy participants (135 female; M age = 19.01, SD age = 1.27) completed measures of theory of mind (ToM; Faux Pas task), autistic traits (Autism Spectrum Quotient), social engagement (Reward Dependence Subscale of The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI-RD), sociability and executive function (both sub-scales of the Adult Temperament Questionnaire; ATQ).
Path analyses found executive function, sociability and social engagement were negatively associated with autistic traits both directly and indirectly. Results indicate that executive function may impact sociability and social engagement and their interaction may relate to the degree of autistic traits shown in a typical sample. However, ToM (as measured by the Faux Pas test) was not related to any of the other variables.
Sociability, social engagement and effortful control deficits may be linked to higher levels of autistic traits. These factors appear to form a hierarchy of factors underpinning ASD, with executive function contributing to all aspects, followed by sociability and social engagement at a higher level. Future research examining in clinical populations the utility of a more integrated model of social motivation that incorporates executive functions appears warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-87
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Autism
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022


  • Autistic traits
  • theory of mind
  • sociability
  • social engagement
  • executing function


Dive into the research topics of 'The Relationship between Autistic Characteristics, Social Engagement and Executive Function in a typical sample'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this