Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1534–1541

The ‘Reading the Mind in Films’ Task [Child Version]: Complex Emotion and Mental State Recognition in Children with and without Autism Spectrum Conditions

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-007-0533-7

Cite this article as:
Golan, O., Baron-Cohen, S. & Golan, Y. J Autism Dev Disord (2008) 38: 1534. doi:10.1007/s10803-007-0533-7


Children with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have difficulties recognizing others’ emotions. Research has mostly focused on basic emotion recognition, devoid of context. This study reports the results of a new task, assessing recognition of complex emotions and mental states in social contexts. An ASC group (n = 23) was compared to a general population control group (n = 24). Children with ASC performed lower than controls on the task. Using task scores, more than 87% of the participants were allocated to their group. This new test quantifies complex emotion and mental state recognition in life-like situations. Our findings reveal that children with ASC have residual difficulties in this aspect of empathy. The use of language-based compensatory strategies for emotion recognition is discussed.


Emotion recognitionComplex emotionsEmpathySocial cognitionChildhoodAutism spectrum

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Research Centre, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael