Are autistic and alexithymic traits distinct? A factor-analytic and network approach

Hélio Clemente Cuve*, Jennifer Murphy, Hannah Hobson, Eri Ichijo, Caroline Catmur, Geoffrey Bird

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the heterogeneity in autism, socioemotional difficulties are often framed as universal. Increasing evidence, however, suggests that socioemotional difficulties may be explained by alexithymia, a distinct yet frequently co-occurring condition. If, as some propose, autistic traits are responsible for socioemotional impairments, then alexithymia may itself be a symptom of autism. We aimed to determine whether alexithymia should be considered a product of autism or regarded as a separate condition. Using factor-analytic and network approaches, we provide evidence that alexithymic and autistic traits are distinct. We argue that: (1) models of socioemotional processing in autism should conceptualise difficulties as intrinsic to alexithymia; and (2) assessment of alexithymia is crucial for diagnosis and personalised interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date1 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Alexithymia
  • Autism
  • Factor
  • Network
  • Separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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