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Research suggests that there are two main constructs of empathy, known as Cognitive Empathy (CE) and Affective Empathy (AE), which are balanced and integrated in most typically developing individuals. Research suggests that individuals with ASPD and ASD are counterbalanced in empathy deficits, as those with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) are thought to demonstrate high CE and low AE, while individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) demonstrate low CE and high AE. In my proposed study model, I designed two experiments, which seek to examine the behavioral, neurological and explicit responses to affective empathy in ASD, ASPD, and typically developing (TD) groups. In the first experiment, the three groups of participants respond to a confederate who receives a text message, enacting behavioral situations that require response from the participant. The participants also take the Strange Stories Test and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, which serve as measures of cognitive empathy. In the second experiment, the participants’ neurological reactions to International Affective Picture System (IAPS) stimuli are measured through fMRI and skin conductance apparatuses. Results show a main effect of high CE and low AE in the ASPD group, while the converse appears to be true of the ASD group compared to the balanced empathy of the baseline TD group. Further, it appears that the ASPD group is able to represent themselves as having AE in the behavioral situation, while the ASD group exhibits flat affect, highlighting a social chameleon effect in the ASPD population.
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Bell-Gurwitz, Rebecca Ana, "Theory of Mind as Empathy: Cognitive and Affective Empathic Deficits Counterbalanced in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Antisocial Personality Disorder" (2013). Senior Projects Spring 2013. 309.
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