Social needs in daily life in adults with Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Anouk Hintzen, Philippe Delespaul, Jim van Os, Inez Myin-Germeys*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although social deficits remain a persistent component of the behavioural phenotype of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) in adulthood, it remains unclear whether these represent diminished social needs, as is seen in social anhedonia, or rather thwarted social needs, as is seen in social anxiety. This study used the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) - a structured diary technique - to examine social interaction in daily life of 8 adults with PDD, compared to 14 healthy controls. Multilevel linear regression analyses showed that PDD subjects a) did not spend more time alone, b) had no increased preference to be alone when in company, and c) spent more time with familiar people, compared to control subjects. Patients experienced more negative affect and anxiety when in the company of less familiar people compared to when they are alone, whereas no difference in affect could be found between being alone or being with familiar people. All these lines of evidence suggest that PDD subjects do have a desire to interact. However. this may be thwarted as is seen in social anxiety. Therapeutic interventions should aim at decreasing negative affect and anxiety in social interactions possibly by improving social skills to fulfil the existing social needs in adults with PDD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-80
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2010


  • Social anxiety
  • Social needs
  • Experience Sampling Method
  • Asperger's syndrome

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