Article

The evolution of empathizing and systemizing: assortative mating of two strong systemizers and the cause of autism

Simon Baron-Cohen

in Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568308
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198568308.013.0016

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The evolution of empathizing and systemizing: assortative mating of two strong systemizers and the cause of autism

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This article discusses two cognitive processes, empathising and systemising, in terms of sex differences and the implications of these for evolutionary psychology. It also discusses the theory that assortative mating of two strong systemisers is a cause of autism, a neurodevelopmental condition involving empathy impairment alongside hypersystemising. Empathising is the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion. Empathy is a skill (or a set of skills). It defines mindreading as the ability to interpret one's own or another agent's actions as driven by mental states. The model in the article shows the ontogenesis of a theory of mind in the first four years of life, and justifies the existence of four components on the basis of developmental competence and neuropsychological dissociation.

Keywords: cognitive processes; evolutionary psychology; assortative mating; systemisers; autism; emotion; empathy; mindreading; ontogenesis; neuropsychological dissociation

Article.  9056 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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