Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 55–64 | Cite as

Are Autistic Traits Measured Equivalently in Individuals With and Without An Autism Spectrum Disorder? An Invariance Analysis of the Autism Spectrum Quotient Short Form

  • Aja L. Murray
  • Tom Booth
  • Karen McKenzie
  • Renate Kuenssberg
  • Michael O’Donnell
Original Paper


It is common to administer measures of autistic traits to those without autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) with, for example, the aim of understanding autistic personality characteristics in non-autistic individuals. Little research has examined the extent to which measures of autistic traits actually measure the same traits in the same way across those with and without an ASD. We addressed this question using a multi-group confirmatory factor invariance analysis of the Autism Quotient Short Form (AQ-S: Hoekstra et al. in J Autism Dev Disord 41(5):589–596, 2011) across those with (n = 148) and without (n = 168) ASD. Metric variance (equality of factor loadings), but not scalar invariance (equality of thresholds), held suggesting that the AQ-S measures the same latent traits in both groups, but with a bias in the manner in which trait levels are estimated. We, therefore, argue that the AQ-S can be used to investigate possible causes and consequences of autistic traits in both groups separately, but caution is due when combining or comparing levels of autistic traits across the two groups.


Autism Autistic traits Measurement invariance Confirmatory factor analysis Autism spectrum quotient 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aja L. Murray
    • 1
  • Tom Booth
    • 1
  • Karen McKenzie
    • 2
  • Renate Kuenssberg
    • 3
  • Michael O’Donnell
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of PsychologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Clinical Psychology DepartmentUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.NHS FifeKirkcaldyUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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