A common test used by researchers and doctors to measure autistic personality traits has been determined unreliable by team of psychologists at the University of Bath, King’s College London, and Cardiff.
The scores from the test may lack validity and underlines new questions about the use for screening for autism. In the 10-item Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ10) questionnaire, people are asked to report if they have personality characteristics associated with autism. The AQ10 is the shortest and most commonly used by GPs.
For the study, the results from the questionnaire were used in a large-scale study in order to measure autistic traits in the general population. These autistic traits and tendencies are linked with performance on other tasks, in order to inform how autism was related to other social behaviors.
For the study published in Cambridge University Press’ Experimental Results, researchers took data from over 6500 participants and examined the effectiveness of AQ10 in measuring autism.
The study concluded that the measure had poor reliability across several statistical techniques, and questioned accuracy and dependency on AQ10 as a measure of autistic traits.
“Our findings add further evidence to a growing body of literature indicating that the measures of autism and autistic traits currently used in research are inadequate,” commented Dr Punit Shah, senior author of the study and expert on cognitive processing at the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology.