The Influence of Autistic Features on Identity Development in Emerging Adults

Kaylin Ratner, Steven L. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to the relatively common presence of autistic features in the general population, this research explores how identity develops in those with varying degrees of social limitations. Interpersonal functioning is at the cornerstone of both identity and autism; therefore, this study set out to bridge a current gap in research by investigating the relationship between psychosocial identity and autistic features. A sample of adult university students (N = 602) completed measures of autistic traits, identity exploration and commitment, identity distress, and existential anxiety. Autistic features were positively related to identity exploration, identity distress, and existential anxiety, and negatively related to identity commitment. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for enhancing identity-oriented programs aimed at fostering positive youth development through the application of treatment modalities traditionally used to treat individuals with social impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-139
Number of pages4
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 16 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • college
  • identity
  • positive youth development
  • social competence
  • transitions to adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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