This is really interesting, given a recent conversation with my family about Asperger’s syndrome. My mom (a clinical therapist) is fostering a teenage boy who she diagnosed with Asperger’s. My brother and I were talking about empathy in a seperate conversation a couple weeks ago. He says it is only in the last couple years that he has finally conceded that there is such a biological phenomenon as empathy (having to do with near-neurons, I think). But he still does not concede that people act empathetically for any reason other than biological.
Of course, this isn’t a diagnostic test, just for fun.
On the Systemizing part of the test, I scored a 60. Here’s what they say about that:
51-80 = You have a very high ability for analysing and exploring a system. Three times as many people with Asperger Syndrome score in this range, compared to typical men, and almost no women score this high. On average women score about 24 and men score about 30.
On the Empathising part of the test, I scored an 18. Here’s what they say about that:
0-32 = You have a lower than average ability for understanding how other people feel and responding appropriately. On average, most women score about 47 and most men about 42. Most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 20.
These scores put me in the “extreme type S” range on the chart shown at the bottom of the page here.
I even went through the Empathizing part a second time, trying to spin my answers towards a more empathetic score. I ended up with a 15 that time. So much for manipulating the system. 🙂
My brother was saying that he thought the reason the Asperger’s folks he knew were so smart was that, because they understood the world in terms of a system, they had had to consciously figure out the system that structures our social interaction. If someone with Asperger’s is socially functional, it’s because they have a systemic understanding of it, rather than the intuitive or empathetic understanding most folks have. Consciously figuring out the rules to our whole complex social system makes any other process you care to tackle seem pretty lightweight.
I certainly can relate to that, having had to consciously figure out the social codes for facial expression, tone of voice, and gesture. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized people expected there to be some expression on my face to go with what I was saying. So I spent time practicing until it seemed like I was getting the responses I expected from my interactions with people. I still don’t have the tone of voice thing down completely, although I’m getting there. Usually I can get it right, and if I don’t I usually realize immediately and take corrective action. The only time that this isn’t true is when I’m frustrated, in which case I sometimes forget to remain conscious of my choice of tone, meaning that I often revert to my default flatline tone. In the context of an argument (a situation where I am likely to be frustrated), that comes off as sounding condescending or negative.