Personality and self-insight in individuals with autism spectrum disorder

Roberta A. Schriber, Richard W. Robins, Marjorie Solomon Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) involves widespread difficulties in social interaction, communication, and behavioral flexibility. Consequently, individuals with ASD are believed to exhibit a number of unique personality tendencies, including a lack of insight into those tendencies. However, surprisingly little research has examined these issues. Study 1 compared self-reports of Big Five personality traits in adults with ASD (n= 37) to those of typically developing (TD) adults (n= 42). Study 2 examined whether any observed personality differences replicated in children/adolescents with ASD (n= 50) and TD controls (n= 50) according to self- and parent reports of personality. Study 2 also assessed level of self-insight in individuals with ASD relative to TD individuals by examining the degree to which self-reports converged with parent reports in terms of self- other agreement and self-enhancement (vs. self-diminishment) biases. Individuals with ASD were more Neurotic and less Extraverted, Agreeable, Conscientious, and Open to Experience. These personality differences replicated for (a) children, adolescents, and adults; (b) self- and parent reports; and (c) males and females. However, personality traits were far from perfect predictors of ASD vs. TD group membership, did not predict within-group variability in ASD symptom severity, and had differential links to maladjustment in the ASD and TD groups, suggesting that ASD represents more than just an extreme standing on trait dimensions. Finally, individuals with ASD had a tendency to self-enhance and TD individuals, to self-diminish, but both groups showed comparable self-other agreement. Thus, individuals with ASD exhibit distinct personalities relative to TD individuals but may have a similar level of insight into them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-130
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Autism
  • Personality judgment
  • Personality traits
  • Psychopathology
  • Self-knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology


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