Subclinical schizotypal vs. autistic traits show overlapping and diametrically opposed facets in a non-clinical population

Igor Nenadić, Tina Meller, Ulrika Evermann, Simon Schmitt, Julia Katharina Pfarr, Ahmad Abu-Akel, Sarah Grezellschak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The overlap of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and psychosis or schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) has exposed problems central to conceptualising and understanding co-morbidity in psychiatric disorders. Methods: In the present study, we demonstrate that a deep phenotyping approach aids clarification of both overlapping and diametrically opposed features of ASD and SSD on the level of trait facets. Results: We first show overlap of negative and disorganised (but not positive) features of schizotypy with autistic traits in a sample of n = 376 German non-clinical subjects using multiple psychometric measures of schizotypy (MSS multidimensional schizotypy scale, OLIFE Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences, and SPQ-B schizotypal personality questionnaire – brief) and the AQ autism spectrum quotient, with control measures for affective spectrum pathology (BDI). Findings were then replicated in a French-Swiss sample (n = 264) using MSS, OLIFE, AQ, and in addition the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE). Additional principal component analysis confirmed our finding of the co-existence of both overlapping (loss of function, social communication deficit, and negative schizotypy) as well as diametrically opposed features (AQ attention to detail, positive schizotypy) across the two spectra. Results were validated with Horn's parallel analyses, affirming two component solutions, and PCA using sample-specific, factor-analysis-derived schizotypy scores. Conclusions: Providing a framework for multi-dimensional transdiagnostic characterisation of ASD vs. SSD phenotypes we point out overlapping vs. discriminating facets. In addition to the use of novel multidimensional schizotypy scales, it also shows transcultural consistency of findings, and highlights a particular role for the attention to detail AQ subscale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Autism quotient (AQ)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Interpersonal
  • Schizotypy
  • Subclinical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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