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Enhanced Sensitivity to Angry Voices in People with Features of the Broader Autism Phenotype


The present study examined whether the ability to recognize vocal emotional expressions is negatively related to features of the Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP) in the general population. We assessed 61 typically developing adults on a BAP self-report measure (Broader Autism Phenotype Questionnaire) and a purpose-developed online emotion recognition task for efficient delivery of non-linguistic vocal stimuli corresponding to the six basic emotions. Contrary to expectations, we found that higher self-ratings of rigid BAP traits correlated with better recognition accuracy and higher intensity ratings for angry voices. We interpret this anger-specific association as an advantage for enhanced threat detection in the BAP and discuss this finding in the broader context of personality research and interpersonal theory.

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This research was supported in part by Award Number W81XWH-12-1-0490 from the United States Department of Defence (DoD) office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).

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All authors made substantial contributions to the study design, interpretation of results and writing of this manuscript. VMZY collected and analyzed the data.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sarah J. Wilson.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Yap, V.M.Z., McLachlan, N.M., Scheffer, I.E. et al. Enhanced Sensitivity to Angry Voices in People with Features of the Broader Autism Phenotype. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 3899–3911 (2018).

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  • Broader Autism Phenotype
  • Emotion recognition
  • Vocal affect bursts
  • Anger
  • Threat sensitivity
  • Rigidity