The Friendship Questionnaire: An Investigation of Adults with Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, and Normal Sex Differences

Department of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 11/2003; 33(5):509-17. DOI: 10.1023/A:1025879411971
Source: PubMed


Friendship is an important part of normal social functioning, yet there are precious few instruments for measuring individual differences in this domain. In this article, we report a new self-report questionnaire, the Friendship Questionnaire (FQ), for use with adults of normal intelligence. A high score on the FQ is achieved by the respondent reporting that they enjoy close, empathic, supportive, caring friendships that are important to them; that they like and are interested in people; and that they enjoy interacting with others for its own sake. The FQ has a maximum score of 135 and a minimum of zero. In Study 1, we carried out a study of n = 76 (27 males and 49 females) adults from a general population, to test for previously reported sex differences in friendships. This confirmed that women scored significantly higher than men. In Study 2, we employed the FQ with n = 68 adults (51 males, 17 females) with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism to test the theory that autism is an extreme form of the male brain. The adults with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism scored significantly lower on the FQ than both the male and female controls from Study 1. The FQ thus reveals both a sex difference in the style of friendship in the general population, and provides support for the extreme male brain theory of autism.

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    • "Although the majority of studies have been conducted in the UK (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004; Baron Cohen et al. 2014; Lawrence et al. 2004; Manson and Winterbottom 2012; Muncer and Ling 2006; Sucksmith et al. 2013; Wheelwright et al. 2006), a large number of studies have validated the EQ by demonstrating the typical sex differences in other European countries (Dimitrijevic et al. 2012; Preti et al. 2011; Vellante et al. 2013; Von Horn et al. 2010; Zeyer et al. 2012), as well as in Canada and the US (Berthoz et al. 2008; Wright and Skagerberg 2012), but to a lesser degree in Asian countries (Kim and Lee 2010; Wakabayashi et al. 2007). The typical sex differences are also present for the SQ in European, Asian as well as US samples (Baron-Cohen et al. 2003; Ling et al. 2009; Manson and Winterbottom 2012; Von Horn et al. 2010; Wakabayashi et al. 2007; Wheelwright et al. 2006; Wright and Skagerberg 2012; Zeyer et al. 2012). Good cross-cultural validity of the measures is also demonstrated by lowered EQ scores and elevated SQ scores in international research on samples of individuals with ASD (Baron-Cohen et al. 2003; Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004; Berthoz et al. 2008; Wakabayashi et al. 2007; Wheelwright et al. 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: The 'Empathy Quotient' (EQ) and 'Systemizing Quotient' (SQ) are used worldwide to measure people's empathizing and systemizing cognitive styles. This study investigates the psychometric properties of the Dutch EQ and SQ in healthy participants (n = 685), and high functioning males with autism spectrum disorder (n = 42). Factor analysis provided support for three subscales of the abridged 28-item EQ: Cognitive Empathy, Emotional Empathy and Social Skills. Overall, the Dutch EQ and SQ appeared reliable and valid tools to assess empathizing and systemizing cognitive style in healthy adults and high functioning adults with autism. The literature showed good cross-cultural stability of the SQ and EQ in Western countries, but in Asian countries EQ is less stable and less sensitive to sex differences.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 04/2015; 45(9). DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2448-z · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    • "The maximum score for each item is 5, with the scores ranging from 0 to 5. Five of the 35 items are negatively worded to assess response bias. The internal consistency of the measure is reportedly high at a = 0.84 [42]. As the FQ was originally designed for use with British adults, some rewording was deemed necessary for an Australian adolescent sample speaking an Australian idiom. "
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    ABSTRACT: Four times as many males are diagnosed with high functioning autism compared to females. A growing body of research that focused on females with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) questions the assumption of gender invariance in ASD. Clinical observations suggest that females with ASD superficially demonstrate better social and emotional skills than males with ASD, which may camouflage other diagnostic features. This may explain the under-diagnosis of females with ASD. We hypothesised that females with ASD would display better social skills than males with ASD on a test of friendship and social function. One hundred and one 10- to 16-year-olds (ASD females, n = 25; typically developing (TD) females, n = 25; ASD males, n = 25; TD males, n = 26) were interviewed (using the friendship questionnaire (FQ)) with high scores indicating the child has close, empathetic and supportive relationships. One parent of each child completed the FQ to assess whether there are differences in perception of friendships between parents and children. It was found that, independent of diagnosis, females demonstrated higher scores on the FQ than males. Further, regardless of gender, children with ASD demonstrated lower scores than TD children. Moreover, the effect of ASD was independent of gender. Interestingly, females with ASD and TD males displayed similar scores on the FQ. This finding is supported by clinical reports that females with ASD have more developed social skills than males with ASD. Further research is now required to examine the underlying causes for this phenomenon in order to develop gender-appropriate diagnostic criteria and interventions for ASD.
    Molecular Autism 02/2014; 5(1):19. DOI:10.1186/2040-2392-5-19 · 5.41 Impact Factor
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    • "research suggests that adults with an ASD often experience social isolation (Orsmond et al. 2004), with approximately one-half to two-thirds of this population having no close friendships (Billstedt et al. 2007; Eaves and Ho 2008; Howlin et al. 2000, 2004; Howlin 2003; Liptak et al. 2011; Whitehouse et al. 2009). When friendships do occur, they appear to be less close and supportive than in the general population (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2003). The rates for social participation in the community are also low. "
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    ABSTRACT: Investigating social participation of young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is important given the increasing number of youth aging into young adulthood. Social participation is an indicator of life quality and overall functioning. Using data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2, we examined rates of participation in social activities among young adults who received special education services for autism (ASD group), compared to young adults who received special education for intellectual disability, emotional/behavioral disability, or a learning disability. Young adults with an ASD were significantly more likely to never see friends, never get called by friends, never be invited to activities, and be socially isolated. Among those with an ASD, lower conversation ability, lower functional skills, and living with a parent were predictors of less social participation.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 04/2013; 43(11). DOI:10.1007/s10803-013-1833-8 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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