Differences Between Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults in the Recognition of Anger from Facial Motion Remain after Controlling for Alexithymia

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Colleges, School and Institutes


To date, studies have not established whether autistic and non-autistic individuals differ in emotion recognition from facial motion cues when matched in terms of alexithymia. Here, autistic and non-autistic adults (N = 60) matched on age, gender, non-verbal reasoning ability and alexithymia, completed an emotion recognition task, which employed dynamic point light displays of emotional facial expressions manipulated in terms of speed and spatial exaggeration. Autistic participants exhibited significantly lower accuracy for angry, but not happy or sad, facial motion with unmanipulated speed and spatial exaggeration. Autistic, and not alexithymic, traits were predictive of accuracy for angry facial motion with unmanipulated speed and spatial exaggeration. Alexithymic traits, in contrast, were predictive of the magnitude of both correct and incorrect emotion ratings.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date28 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2021


  • Autism spectrum disorder, Facial expression, Emotion recognition, Movement kinematics, Alexithymia