, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 606-618
Date: 18 May 2011

Can Gaze Avoidance Explain Why Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome Can’t Recognise Emotions From Facial Expressions?

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Research has shown that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have difficulties recognising emotions from facial expressions. Since eye contact is important for accurate emotion recognition, and individuals with ASD tend to avoid eye contact, this tendency for gaze aversion has been proposed as an explanation for the emotion recognition deficit. This explanation was investigated using a newly developed emotion and mental state recognition task. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome were less accurate at recognising emotions and mental states, but did not show evidence of gaze avoidance compared to individuals without Asperger’s Syndrome. This suggests that the way individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome look at faces cannot account for the difficulty they have recognising expressions.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1448-5.