Research on facial emotion recognition may change our understanding of autism

Summary: Social difficulties associated with autism may reflect differences that become apparent only in high-stress scenarios and certain social interactions. Research challenges the belief that individuals with ASD are unable to adequately read the emotional expressions of facial expressions.

A source: Flinders University

It is common knowledge that people with autism cannot recognize the emotions of others and understand how effectively they are.

But autistic adults read emotions on people’s faces less accurately than their non-autistic peers, according to a new Australian study.

Recent research published in two articles in leading international journals, Autism Researchsuggests that commonly held notions that adults diagnosed with autism have difficulty recognizing social emotions and have little understanding of their processing of the emotions on the faces of others may need to be reexamined.

In a Flinders University study, 63 adults diagnosed with autism and 67 non-autistic adults (IQs ranging from 85 to 143) participated in three to five hour sessions in which they compared their facial recognition of 12 faces, such as anger. and grief.

Dr. Marie Georgopoulos collected a lot of data during her doctoral thesis, which later formed the basis of a number of research articles by the research team.

The results suggest that social difficulties associated with autism may actually reflect differences observed only in certain social interactions or high-pressure scenarios, challenging the view that autistic adults are unable to adequately read emotions in facial expressions.

According to Neil Brewer, one of the authors of the study and Matthew Flinders, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, this study shows that autistic people are on average slightly less accurate, but also slightly slower in classifying the emotions of others.

“These findings challenge the notion that adults with autism are more exposed to increasingly complex emotional dynamics and have difficulty recognizing specific emotions.”

But autistic adults read emotions on people’s faces less accurately than their non-autistic peers, according to a new Australian study. Image is in the public domain

There was considerable overlap in performance between the two groups, with only a very small subgroup of autistic individuals performing below their non-autistic peers.

Differences between groups were consistent regardless of how the emotions were presented, the nature of the response required, or the specific emotion considered.

The study also found significant variability in how people interpret the emotions of others, but found no differences between autistic and non-autistic samples.

“The sophisticated methodologies used in these studies not only help advance our understanding of emotion processing in autism, but also reveal previously unrecognized capabilities of autistic individuals.”

“Further advances may require us to develop behaviors related to emotion recognition and reactions to others’ emotions in real-life interactions or perhaps virtual reality settings.”

This is about autism research news

Author: Yaz Dedovich
A source: Flinders University
The connection: Jaz Dedovic – Flinders University
Photo: Image is in the public domain

Original research: Open access.
Marie Georgopoulos et al. Autism Research

See also

These two young girls can be seen playing


Coping with the emotions of others: No evidence for deficits in metacognitive awareness of emotion recognition in autism

Emotion recognition difficulties contribute to social-communication problems for autistic individuals, and awareness of such difficulties may be important for identifying and seeking strategies to reduce their negative impact.

We investigated the metacognitive awareness of autistic facial emotion recognition responses (Do not = 63) and non-autistic (Do not = 67) adults are exposed to (a) static, dynamic, and social stimuli, (b) free and forced report formats, and (c) four different sets of six “basic” and six “complex” emotions.

Interindividual relationships between recognition accuracy and post-recognition confidence did not show that autistic individuals were worse at discriminating between correct and incorrect recognition responses than non-autistic individuals, but both groups showed interindividual variability.

Although the autistic group was less accurate and slower in emotion recognition, confidence-accuracy calibration analyzes showed no evidence of reduced sensitivity to fluctuations in their emotion recognition performance. Increasing accuracy across variations in stimulus type, response format, and emotion was associated with progressively higher confidence along the calibration curves for both groups.

However, for both groups, calibration was characterized by overconfidence at high confidence levels (ie, overall accuracy below the mean confidence level), with the non-autistic group curves facilitating more decisions at 90%–100% confidence.

A comparison of slow and fast responders showed no evidence of a “hard-easy” effect—a tendency to overconfidence during difficult tasks and underconfidence during easy tasks—suggesting that autistic people’s slower responses may reflect a strategic difference rather than the speed of the recognition process. to limit.

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