Assessing the effects of satisfaction with friendships and autistic-like traits on psychological well-being
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Assessing the effects of satisfaction with friendships and autistic-like traits on psychological well-being

Karen McKenzie Professor of psychology/clinical psychologist, department of psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Jack Warner Psychology graduate, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Kara Murray Community mental health nurse, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh, Scotland

Why you should read this article:
  • To reflect on the importance, for psychological well-being, of having close and supportive friendships

  • To enhance your awareness of the challenges people with autism and those with autistic-like traits may face

  • To explore what you can do to support service users to develop and maintain satisfying friendships

Background Friendships are important for people’s mental health, while being able to recognise other people’s emotions assists in developing and maintaining friendships. Certain groups, including people with autism, tend to find emotion recognition and the development of satisfying friendships challenging. There is little research into emotion recognition, quality of friendships and psychological well-being in people with autistic-like traits.

Aim To explore the relationships between autistic-like traits, emotion recognition, friendship satisfaction and psychological well-being with the aim of informing mental health interventions.

Method Seventy-eight people completed assessment tools measuring autistic-like traits, emotion recognition ability, friendship quality, satisfaction with the quality of friendships and psychological well-being. Correlations between variables were calculated and a multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine predictors of psychological well-being.

Results Respondents with lower emotion recognition ability were less satisfied with the quality of their friendships than those with higher emotion recognition ability. Respondents’ psychological well-being decreased in parallel with decreased satisfaction with the quality of friendships and increased levels of autistic-like traits.

Conclusion Mental health interventions that enhance people’s ability to recognise other people’s emotions and develop satisfying friendships may have a positive influence on psychological well-being, particularly in people with high levels of autistic-like traits. Further research is required to confirm this.

Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2022.e1609

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

k.mckenzie@northumbria.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

McKenzie K, Warner J, Murray K (2022) Assessing the effects of satisfaction with friendships and autistic-like traits on psychological well-being. Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2022.e1609

Published online: 19 April 2022

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