Autistic traits and negative emotions in the general population during COVID-19: Mediating roles of the behavioural immune system and COVID-19 risk perception

Psychiatry Res. 2021 Apr 1;300:113918. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113918. Online ahead of print.


Identifying the susceptibility factors of the emotional response to COVID-19 is highly significant for the psychological epidemic-crisis intervention, and autistic-related traits (ATs) is likely to be one of the candidate factors. The current study explored the relationships between ATs, emotional response to COVID-19, and the behavioural immune system (BIS) measured by trait pathogen avoidance and COVID-19 risk perception in the general population. The results showed that ATs predicted increased negative emotions directly and indirectly by enhancing the activation tendency of BIS and COVID-19 risk perception. The findings provide a candidate hypothesis for the reaction characteristics to pathogen threats in individuals with ASD and expand the understanding of individual differences in response to COVID-19.

PMID:33831811 | DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113918