Evaluating posed and evoked facial expressions of emotion from adults with autism spectrum disorder

J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Jan;45(1):75-89. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2194-7.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Perception*
  • Young Adult