SACAD: John Heinrichs Scholarly and Creative Activity Days


Empathy and social masking are traits related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Social masking, the act of camouflaging socially to appear closer to the social norm, is often utilized to conceal autistic traits, such that individuals with ASD mask more frequently than neurotypical individuals (Hull et al., 2017). However, neurotypical adults also use masking and camouflaging behaviors in routine social interactions, including actively attempting to mirror others’ moods, reflecting vocabulary and syntax, or matching facial expressions to respond appropriately (Pryke-Hobbes et al. 2023). Additionally, empathy is related to ASD traits; although, the findings are often mixed. Originally, it was thought that people with autism lacked the level of empathy seen in neurotypical populations (Charman et al., 1997). However, this conclusion resulted from poor definitions of empathy and unreliable testing (Fletcher-Watson & Bird, 2020). The increased interest and research on empathy and masking have led to new assessments, such as the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) and the Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q). The current study compares the demographic characteristics (i.e., age and gender) of a subclinical college student sample on the TEQ and the CAT-Q. Social masking plateaus in early adulthood; however, scores diverge in later adulthood for those with autism symptoms, showing that those with autism traits mask at higher rates (Remnélius & Bölte, 2023). Additionally, the TEQ has shown that older adults have significantly higher empathy scores than younger adults (Gould & Gautreau, 2014). Research on gender suggest no significant differences in CAT-Q total or subscale scores between non-autistic males and females (Hull et al., 2019a). However, in autistic populations, females score significantly higher than males in both the total and subscale scores.

Faculty Advisor

Janett Naylor-Tincknell



Submission Type

in-person poster




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