The "reading the mind in films" task: complex emotion recognition in adults with and without autism spectrum conditions. complex emotion recognition in adults with and without autism spectrum conditions.

Ofer Golan, Simon Baron-Cohen, Jacqueline J. Hill, Yael Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have difficulties recognizing mental states in others. Most research has focused on recognition of basic emotions from faces and voices separately. This study reports the results of a new task, assessing recognition of complex emotions and mental states from social scenes taken from feature films. The film format arguably is more challenging and ecologically closer to real social situations. SAMPLE AND METHOD: A group of adults with ASC (n=22) were compared to a group of matched controls from the general population (n=22). Participants were tested individually. RESULTS: Overall, individuals with ASC performed significantly lower than controls. There was a positive correlation between verbal IQ and task scores. Using task scores, more than 90% of the participants were correctly allocated to their group. Item analysis showed that the errors individuals with ASC make when judging socioemotional information are subtle. CONCLUSIONS: This new test of complex emotion and mental state recognition reveals that adults with ASC have residual difficulties in this aspect of empathy. The use of language-based compensatory strategies for emotion recognition is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Volume1
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to: Ofer Golan, Autism Research Centre, Douglas House, 18b Trumpington Road, Cambridge CB2 2AH, UK. E-mail: og211@cam.ac.uk OG was supported by the Corob Charitable Trust, the Cambridge Overseas Trust, the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR), and B’nai B’rith Scholarships. SBC and JH were supported by the Shirley Foundation, Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Three Guineas Trust. We are grateful to Chris Ashwin, Sally Wheelwright, Sarah Johnson and Emma Chapman for their support.

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