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    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by reduced pain empathy-a process that is grounded in first-hand pain perception. Because autistic traits are continuously distributed in the general population, we hypothesized that first-hand pain sensitivity would mediate the link between autistic traits and pain empathy. After controlling for alexithymia, higher autistic traits were associated with lower cognitive and emotional empathy in response to others' pain, as well as lower sensitivity to cold and heat pain (higher cold pain tolerance and lower laser heat pain-intensity ratings). Importantly, pain sensitivity fully mediated the link between autistic traits and pain empathy. These findings highlight the role of atypical first-hand pain sensitivity in the lack of pain empathy observed in people with high autistic traits or ASD.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


    Wenyun Zhang, Shiwei Zhuo, Xiaoyun Li, Weiwei Peng. Autistic Traits and Empathy for Others' Pain Among the General Population: Test of the Mediating Effects of First-Hand Pain Sensitivity. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. 2022 Feb 25

    PMID: 35217943

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