Evaluating Posed and Evoked Facial Expressions of Emotion from Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Though many studies have examined facial affect perception by individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), little research has investigated how facial expressivity in ASD is perceived by others. Here, naïve female observers (n = 38) judged the intensity, naturalness and emotional category of expressions produced by adults with ASD (n = 6) and typically developing (TD) adults (n = 6) in both a posed condition and an evoked condition in which emotions were naturalistically elicited and validated. ASD expressions were rated as more intense and less natural than TD expressions but contrary to prediction were identified with greater accuracy, an effect driven primarily by angry expressions. Naturalness ratings of evoked expressions were positively associated with identification accuracy for TD but not ASD individuals. Collectively, these findings highlight differences, but not a reduction, in facial expressivity in ASD that do not hinder emotion recognition accuracy but may affect social interaction quality.
KeywordsFaces Expressivity Emotion Affect Social interaction
The authors wish to thank the individuals who participated in the study, and the Nonpareil Institute of Plano, TX for helping with participant recruitment. We also extend our gratitude to Claire Noonan, Hsin-Fen Yang, Claire Simpson and Leila Mustafa for helping with data collection, Dr. Nyaz Didehbani and Dr. Michelle Kandalaft for assisting with clinical assessments, and Dr. Alice O’Toole and Cameron Siler for providing photography studio equipment. Finally, we greatly appreciate the helpful comments and suggestions provided by Dr. Candice Mills and Dr. Alice O’Toole on a previous version of this manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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