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Self-Report Camouflaging Autistic Traits
Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT
CAT-Q The Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q) is a standardized self-report measure of camouflaging behaviors in autistic and non-autistic adults. It comprises 25 items and takes around...
Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q)
Authors and affiliations
Laura HullWilliam Mandy
Laura Hull1 Email author William Mandy1 1.
Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
Reference work entry
First Online: 14 March 2021DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91280-6_102327
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The Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q) is a standardized self-report measure of camouflaging behaviors in autistic and non-autistic adults. It comprises 25 items and takes around 5 min to complete, on paper or online. The scale consists of three sub-scales: compensation (strategies used to overcome social difficulties associated with autism), masking (strategies used to hide autistic characteristics or present a less autistic persona), and assimilation (strategies used to avoid standing out during social interactions). In addition to sub-scale scores, a total camouflaging score can be calculated as the sum of all scores (ranging from 25 to 175, with higher scores indicating greater camouflaging). The CAT-Q is completed by the individual themselves, reflecting on their own behaviors at the present time.
Camouflaging describes the use of strategies, whether deliberate or automatic, to minimize the appearance of autistic...
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References and Reading
Bargiela, S., Steward, R., & Mandy, W. (2016). The experiences of late-diagnosed women with autism Spectrum conditions: An investigation of the female autism phenotype. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(10), 3281–3294.
Cage, E., Di Monaco, J., & Newell, V. (2018). Experiences of autism acceptance and mental health in autistic adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(2), 473–484.
Cassidy, S., Bradley, L., Shaw, R., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2018). Risk markers for suicidality in autistic adults. Molecular Autism, 9(42), 1–14.
Constantino, J. N. (2011). The quantitative nature of autistic social impairment. Pediatric Research, 69(5 Pt 2), 55R–62R. https://doi.org/10.1203/PDR.0b013e318212ec6e.
Hull, L., Petrides, K. V., Allison, C., Smith, P., Baron-Cohen, S., Lai, M.-C., & Mandy, W. (2017). “Putting on my best normal”: Social camouflaging in adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(8), 2519–2534.
Hull, L., Mandy, W., Lai, M.-C., Baron-Cohen, S., Allison, C., Smith, P., & Petrides, K. V. (2018). Development and validation of the camouflaging autistic traits questionnaire (CAT-Q). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(3), 819–833.
Hull, L., Lai, M.-C., Baron-Cohen, S., Allison, C., Smith, P., Petrides, K. V., & Mandy, W. (2019). Gender differences in self-reported camouflaging in autistic and non-autistic adults. Autism, 136236131986480. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361319864804.
Kreiser, N. L., & White, S. W. (2014). ASD in females: Are we overstating the gender difference in diagnosis? Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 17(1), 67–84.
Lai, M.-C., Lombardo, M. V., Auyeung, B., Chakrabarti, B., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2015). Sex/gender differences and autism: Setting the scene for future research. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(1), 11–24.
Lai, M.-C., Lombardo, M. V., Ruigrok, A. N. V., Chakrabarti, B., Auyeung, B., Szatmari, P., et al. (2017). Quantifying and exploring camouflaging in men and women with autism. Autism, 21(6), 690–702.
Lai, M.-C., Lombardo, M. V., Chakrabarti, B., Ruigraok, A. N., Bullmore, E. T., Suckling, J., et al. (2018). Neural self-representation in autistic men and women and association with ‘compensatory camouflaging’. Autism. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361318807159.
Milner, V., McIntosh, H., Colvert, E., & Happé, F. (2019). A qualitative exploration of the female experience of autism Spectrum disorder (ASD). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-03906-4.
Parish-Morris, J., Liberman, M. Y., Cieri, C., Herrington, J. D., Yerys, B. E., Bateman, L., et al. (2017). Linguistic camouflage in girls with autism Spectrum disorder. Molecular Autism, 8(1), 48.
Ratto, A. B., Kenworthy, L., Yerys, B. E., Bascom, J., Trubanova, A., White, S. W., et al. (2018). What about the girls? Sex-based differences in autistic traits and adaptive skills. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(5), 1698–1711.
Tierney, S., Burns, J., & Kilbey, E. (2016). Looking behind the mask: Social coping strategies of girls on the autistic spectrum. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 23, 73–83.
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021
The Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT
The CAT-Q is a self-report measure of social camouflaging behaviors in adults, used to identify camouflaging behaviors in autistic people.
April 21, 2020 Autism tests
Last updated on May 11, 2022
1 Who the test is designed for
2 What it tests 3 Taking the test 4 Scoring 5 Validity 6 Discussion 7 The CAT-Q 8 Self-scoring 9 Average scores 10 Correlations
11 Recommended next steps
12 References 13 Tags 14 Disclaimer 15 Comments
The Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q) is a self-report measure of social camouflaging behaviours in adults. It may be used to identify autistic individuals who do not currently meet diagnostic criteria due to their ability to mask their autistic proclivities.
Duration: 5–10 minutes
Type: screening tool
Authors: Laura Hull et al.
Publishing year: 2018
Seminal paper: Development and Validation of the Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q) (Hull et al., 2018)
Take the test here: CAT-Q
*The clarity of the test is lower due to its (reverse) scoring, which adds complexity to calculating the scores. Our own implemented auto-scoring feature deals with that, however, but this is not available on the official test.
Who the test is designed forAdults (age 16+) of average to higher intelligence.
What it tests
The CAT-Q measures the degree to which you use camouflaging strategies. The more you camouflage, the more of your autistic proclivities you are likely able to suppress. As such, a high camouflaging score can also account for lower scores on other autism tests. So if you don’t currently meet the diagnostic criteria but you still think you have autistic traits, then this could be why.
The CAT-Q measures camouflaging in general, as well as three subcategories:Compensation — Strategies used to actively compensate for difficulties in social situations.
Examples: copying body language and facial expressions, learning social cues from movies and books (see Autism & movie talk).Masking — Strategies used to hide autistic characteristics or portray a non-autistic persona.
Examples: adjusting face and body to appear confident and/or relaxed, forcing eye contact.Assimilation — Strategies used to try to fit in with others in social situations.
Examples: Putting on an act, avoiding or forcing interactions with others.
Taking the test
The CAT-Q consists of 25 statements, giving you 7 choices for each statement:
Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree
Neither Agree Nor Disagree
Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
The 25 statements relate to 3 subcategories of camouflaging:9 statements (compensation)8 statements (masking)8 statements (assimilation)
Scoring range: 25–175
Threshold score: 100↑
All items are scored 1–7, with higher scores reflecting greater camouflaging.
We added auto-scoring for the CAT-Q, but should you want or need to self-score, we will explain how to do that in the Self-scoring section. To see how autistic people and neurotypicals score on the CAT-Q, go to the Average scores section. For more information on how to interpret your scores, read the post below.
Interpreting your CAT-Q scores
How reliable, accurate, valid, and up to date is the test?
Research shows robust psychometric support for the CAT-Q.
High internal consistency was found for the total scale (Cronbach’s α = 0.94), and the Compensation (α = 0.91), Masking (α = 0.85), and Assimilation (α = 0.92) factors.Test–retest reliability was good; 30 autistic individuals retook the test 3 months later, and no significant differences were found between scores at both times.
The stability was good for the total scale and the Compensation factor, while moderate stability was found for the Masking and Assimilation factors.
Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht:
I like that the CAT-Q addresses some of the problems with the outdated definitions of autism in the research literature. It can also identify a person with autism who might score below the threshold of other autism tests due to Masking.
I scored 143, which is significantly higher than most autistic females (124), and autistics in general. That is not a surprise as I have always camouflaged so much that therapists never diagnosed me with autism until age 47. In other words, we can say that my impression management—behaviours that occur in front of others—is excellent.
My Compensation (strategies used to compensate for difficulties in social situations) score of 49 is higher than the 42 average of autistic females. My Masking (strategies used to hide autistic characteristics or pretend to be a non-autistic persona) score is 52 compared to the average 38 of autistic females. And in terms of Assimilation (strategies to fit in with others in social situations), I score 45, which is average for autistic females.