Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1332–1346 | Cite as

Using the Circumplex Model of Affect to Study Valence and Arousal Ratings of Emotional Faces by Children and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Angela TsengEmail author
  • Ravi Bansal
  • Jun Liu
  • Andrew J. Gerber
  • Suzanne Goh
  • Jonathan Posner
  • Tiziano Colibazzi
  • Molly Algermissen
  • I-Chin Chiang
  • James A. Russell
  • Bradley S. Peterson
Original Paper


The Affective Circumplex Model holds that emotions can be described as linear combinations of two underlying, independent neurophysiological systems (arousal, valence). Given research suggesting individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have difficulty processing emotions, we used the circumplex model to compare how individuals with ASD and typically-developing (TD) individuals respond to facial emotions. Participants (51 ASD, 80 TD) rated facial expressions along arousal and valence dimensions; we fitted closed, smooth, 2-dimensional curves to their ratings to examine overall circumplex contours. We modeled individual and group influences on parameters describing curve contours to identify differences in dimensional effects across groups. Significant main effects of diagnosis indicated the ASD-group’s ratings were constricted for the entire circumplex, suggesting range constriction across all emotions. Findings did not change when covarying for overall intelligence.


Circumplex model of affect Valence Arousal Autism spectrum disorders Facial emotion 



This work was supported in part by NIMH grants MH36197, and MHK02-74677, T32-MH16434, T32-MH18264, funding from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Suzanne Crosby Murphy Endowment at Columbia University.

Supplementary material

10803_2013_1993_MOESM1_ESM.doc (971 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 971 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Tseng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ravi Bansal
    • 1
  • Jun Liu
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Gerber
    • 1
  • Suzanne Goh
    • 1
  • Jonathan Posner
    • 1
  • Tiziano Colibazzi
    • 1
  • Molly Algermissen
    • 1
  • I-Chin Chiang
    • 1
  • James A. Russell
    • 2
  • Bradley S. Peterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Child and Adolescent PsychiatryColumbia University College of Physicians & SurgeonsNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyBoston CollegeBostonUSA

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