Autistic people find it harder to tell when someone is angry from a facial expression

Contact UsPeople with autism are less able to accurately identify anger from a person’s facial expression, according to new research.

The study by the University of Birmingham also found that for people with the related disorder of alexithymia, all facial expressions appear to be more intensely emotional.

The question of how people with autism recognise and relate to emotional expression has been discussed by scientists for over three decades. But it is only in the past 10 years that the relationship between autism and alexithymia has been explored.

This new study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, uses new techniques to look at how autism and alexithymia affects a person’s ability to accurately gauge the emotions suggested by different facial expressions.

Connor Keating, a PhD researcher in the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology and Centre for Human Brain Health, is lead author of the study. He says: “We identified that autistic people had a specific difficulty recognising anger which we are starting to think may relate to differences in the way autistic and non-autistic people produce these expressions.

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