People who work in scientific professions are more likely to have autistic traits than those in less technical jobs, according to a nationwide experiment involving over half a million members of the public.
The experiment by scientists at Cambridge University invited the public to complete a questionnaire online, which assessed a person’s autistic tendencies with 50 statements. Over 450,000 completed the survey.
The questionnaire is called the autistic spectrum quotient (AQ) and it was developed by scientists at Cambridge University, led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, to quickly assess where someone is likely to fall on the spectrum of traits associated with autism.
The results, which are published in the online journal PLOS One, showed no link between autistic traits and geographic location or age, but did show significant associations between sex and occupation.
The study, also confirmed that men tend to be more autistic than women, with the average male AQ score being 21.6 compared to 19 for women.
People who worked in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (Stem) scored an average of 21.9 compared to 18.9 for other workers.
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen said:
Previous studies have found the number of autistic traits a person has is influenced by both genetic factors and prenatal testosterone levels. These may shed light on why we find males in the population on average have slightly more autistic traits than females do, and why fathers and grandfathers of children with autism are over-represented in Stem fields.
We've taken some question examples, in the swipe quiz below:
Note: The autistic spectrum quotient is not accurate enough to provide a full clinical diagnosis and should not be considered as such.