Autonomy-connectedness mediates sex differences in symptoms of psychopathology

Marrie H.J. Bekker*, Marcel A.L.M. Van Assen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: This study aimed to examine if autonomy-connectedness, capacity for self-governance under the condition of connectedness, would mediate sex differences in symptoms of various mental disorders (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, antisocial personality disorder). Method: Participants (N = 5,525) from a representative community sample in the Netherlands filled out questionnaires regarding the variables under study. Results: Autonomy-connectedness (self-awareness, SA; sensitivity to others, SO; capacity for managing new situations, CMNS) fully mediated the sex differences in depression and anxiety, and partly in eating disorder -(drive for thinness, bulimia, and body dissatisfaction) and antisocial personality disorder characteristics. The mediations followed the expected sex-specific patterns. SO related positively to the internalizing disorder indices, and negatively to the anti-social personality disorder. SA related negatively to all disorder indices; and CMNS to all internalizing disorder indices, but positively to the anti-social personality disorder. Conclusion: Treatment of depression, anxiety, but also eating disorders and the antisocial personality disorder may benefit from a stronger focus on autonomy strengthening.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181626
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Antisocial behavior
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Behavior
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Mental health and psychiatry


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