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Recognition of Emotions in Autism: A Formal Meta-Analysis

Abstract

Determining the integrity of emotion recognition in autistic spectrum disorder is important to our theoretical understanding of autism and to teaching social skills. Previous studies have reported both positive and negative results. Here, we take a formal meta-analytic approach, bringing together data from 48 papers testing over 980 participants with autism. Results show there is an emotion recognition difficulty in autism, with a mean effect size of 0.80 which reduces to 0.41 when a correction for publication bias is applied. Recognition of happiness was only marginally impaired in autism, but recognition of fear was marginally worse than recognition of happiness. This meta-analysis provides an opportunity to survey the state of emotion recognition research in autism and to outline potential future directions.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Uta Frith, Tony Atkinson and Anneli Kylliainen for helpful comments on this manuscript, and Zoran Uljarevic for help preparing parts of the tables.

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Correspondence to Antonia Hamilton.

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Uljarevic, M., Hamilton, A. Recognition of Emotions in Autism: A Formal Meta-Analysis. J Autism Dev Disord 43, 1517–1526 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1695-5

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Emotion
  • Face
  • Meta-analysis
  • Social