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The expression and understanding of jealousy in children with autism

  • NIRIT BAUMINGER (a1)

Abstract

We investigated the expression and understanding of jealousy in 16 high-functioning children with autism and 17 typically developing children matched for IQ, chronological age, gender, and maternal education. We examined the expression of jealousy via children's behaviors, verbalizations, and affects demonstrated during two jealousy-provoking triadic scenarios (drawing and playing) enacted among the child in the experimental group (autism or typical), that child's main caregiver (mostly mothers), and a familiar peer or sibling. The two scenarios corresponded with the two types of jealousy described in past studies: social-comparison jealousy (drawing scenario) and social-relational jealousy (playing scenario). To tap children's understanding, we asked them to identify jealousy from a picture, to provide examples of times they felt jealous, and to offer suggestions for coping with jealousy. The main results revealed that children with autism expressed jealousy in situations similar to their typical age mates but manifested it in different behaviors. Moreover, children with autism revealed a less coherent understanding of the feeling. We discuss the meaning of the gap between demonstrating and understanding jealousy in light of the two central theoretical views conceptualizing the core emotional deficit in children with autism.The Internal Grants Program of Bar-Ilan University supported this research. The author extends special thanks to the children and families who were willing to take part in this study and expresses her appreciation to Dee B. Ankonina for her editorial contribution and to Dov Har-Even for his statistical assistance. The author would also like to thank Galit Halevy–Tendler for her inspiring remarks, Cory Shulman for her help in data collection, and the four anonymous reviewers for their thought-provoking comments.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Nirit Bauminger, School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel; E-mail: bauminn@mail.biu.ac.il.

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Development and Psychopathology
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