E-S theory explains the social and communication issues seen in autism and Asperger syndrome in connection, on the one hand, to delays and deficits in empathizing . The strengths in assimilating narrow areas of interest, on the other hand, involve an intact or even superior skill in systemizing (Baron-Cohen, 2002 , 2008 , 2009 ; Lawson, Baron-Cohen, & Wheelwright, 2004 ).

  • Pathological Altruism (Page 346). Oxford University Press.

Therefore, people with high AQ (Autism Spectrum Quotient) should perform well in EFT (Embedded Figures Test) test 1.

Yet, a study (Valla et al., 2010) has revealed that, the intercorrelation coefficient between AQ and EFT is negative (-0.192 for women, -0.093 for men). Same goes for the relation between RMET and EFT (-0.011 for women, -0.167 for men). Further meta-analysis found similarly incoherent results (Jolliffe & Baron‐Cohen, 1997).

I have seen educators making the assumption that people with high social intelligence are not supposed to be good at spatial tasks. Even Simon Baron-Cohen indicates that figuring out embedded patterns is a systemizing skill.

Empathizers are more interested in people — what they feel and why they think what they think. Systemizers are people who like to figure out the rules embedded in systems such as car engines, train time-tables, dance routines, or stamp collections.

  • Pathological Altruism (Page 347). Oxford University Press.

Do we treat Valla's experiment as an anomaly or a proof that social skills (or lack of it thereof) do not necessarily dictate systemizing or spatial abilities?

Valla, J. M., Ganzel, B. L., Yoder, K. J., Chen, G. M., Lyman, L. T., Sidari, A. P., ... & Belmonte, M. K. (2010). More than maths and mindreading: sex differences in empathizing/systemizing covariance. Autism Research, 3(4), 174-184.
Jolliffe, T., & Baron‐Cohen, S. (1997). Are people with autism and Asperger syndrome faster than normal on the Embedded Figures Test?. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38(5), 527-534.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I improved your references (they should be there even when links break). For example, your "test 1" link is broken. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Apr 9, 2018 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris Thx. I'll keep that in mind for future. $\endgroup$
    – Spero
    Apr 9, 2018 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ A couple of things come to mind: (1) Are the results of Valla et al. reproducible? Alas enough stuff in psychology is wonder paper that finds something others can't replicate. And (2) why is E-S theory necessarily correct? Why would a deficit in empathizing imply extra brain resources for systemizing? It's not like brain circuits/neurons always get repurposed. $\endgroup$
    – Fizz
    Apr 14, 2018 at 22:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Fizz I found the answer. Valla is partially correct. High EQ does not mean lower mental rotation score, and AQ and SQ are not related. While historically, men tend to score higher on MROT etc, there is no negative relation between MROT scores and RMET scores within either gender. Failure to find a biological indicator suggests that this might just be a gender identity issue... not a brain type issue. $\endgroup$
    – Spero
    Apr 15, 2018 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Spero: don't be afraid to write your own answer here... $\endgroup$
    – Fizz
    Apr 15, 2018 at 15:50


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