The empathizing-systemizing theory, social abilities, and mathematical achievement in children

Emily Escovar, Miriam Rosenberg-Lee, Lucina Q Uddin, Vinod Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) theory describes a profile of traits that have been linked to autism spectrum disorders, and are thought to encompass a continuum that includes typically developing (TD) individuals. Although systemizing is hypothesized to be related to mathematical abilities, empirical support for this relationship is lacking. We examine the link between empathizing and systemizing tendencies and mathematical achievement in 112 TD children (57 girls) to elucidate how socio-cognitive constructs influence early development of mathematical skills. Assessment of mathematical achievement included standardized tests designed to examine calculation skills and conceptual mathematical reasoning. Empathizing and systemizing were assessed using the Combined Empathy Quotient-Child (EQ-C) and Systemizing Quotient-Child (SQ-C). Contrary to our hypothesis, we found that mathematical achievement was not related to systemizing or the discrepancy between systemizing and empathizing. Surprisingly, children with higher empathy demonstrated lower calculation skills. Further analysis using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) revealed that the relationship between EQ-C and mathematical achievement was mediated by social ability rather than autistic behaviors. Finally, social awareness was found to play a differential role in mediating the relationship between EQ-C and mathematical achievement in girls. These results identify empathy, and social skills more generally, as previously unknown predictors of mathematical achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23011
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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