Stick people holding hands with one amongst group with autism

In groundbreaking research conducted by Dr. Joe Whittaker, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Sociology, and Social Policy and in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Thomas, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Swansea University and William Costello at University of Texas, Austin, a link has been found between autism and involuntary celibacy, commonly known as "inceldom."

The study, which has gained widespread attention, sheds light on the intersection of neurodevelopmental conditions and social phenomena, offering crucial insights into the experiences of individuals who identify as "incels." When participants were given an autism screening questionnaire in their survey, around 30% scored high enough for a medical referral. This would indicate a rate that would far exceed societal base rates.

Drawing from a recent article published in The Telegraph, Dr. Whittaker underscores the importance of understanding the complex interplay between mental health, social dynamics, and romantic relationships.

Whittaker commented on the significance of the findings, stating:

“Autism is not the cause of hateful attitudes towards women, nor is it an excuse for negative behaviours. Rather, the development of problematic beliefs and actions are complex and multi-causal. That being said, in some circumstances, both mental health and neurodiversity can play a role. Therefore, it is vital for those conducting interventions on incels to have a deep understanding of mental health and neurodiversity.”

The study employed a multidisciplinary approach, combining insights from criminology and psychology to examine the underlying factors contributing to involuntary celibacy. The researchers gained valuable perspectives from individuals within the incel community, providing invaluable firsthand accounts that enrich the study's findings.

The findings of Dr. Whittaker's research are expected to stimulate further discussions within both academic and clinical communities, fostering a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum and those experiencing involuntary celibacy.

As Swansea University continues to champion interdisciplinary research that addresses real-world challenges, Dr. Whittaker's work stands as a testament to the university's commitment to making meaningful contributions to society.

For further information on Dr. Joe Whittaker's research and other initiatives at Swansea University, please contact

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