Reading the mind in cartoon eyes: Comparing human versus cartoon emotion recognition in those with high and low levels of autistic traits

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Abstract

People who have a high degree of autistic traits often underperform on theory of mind tasks such as perspective-taking or facial emotion recognition compared to those with lower levels of autistic traits. However, some research suggests that this may not be the case if the agent they are evaluating is anthropomorphic (i.e. animal or cartoon) rather than typically human. The present studies examined the relation between facial emotion recognition and autistic trait profiles in over 750 adults using either a standard or cartoon version of the Reading the Mind in the Eyes (RME) test. Results showed that those scoring above the clinical cut off for autistic traits on the Autism Quotient performed significantly worse than those with the lowest levels of autistic traits on the standard RME, while scores across these groups did not differ substantially on the cartoon version of the task. These findings add further evidence that theory of mind ability such as facial emotion recognition is not at a global deficit in those with a high degree of autistic traits. Instead, differences in this ability may be specific to evaluating human agents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Reports
Early online date20 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • autism
  • theory of mind
  • anthropomorphism
  • perspective taking
  • Emotion Recognition
  • reading the mind in the eyes
  • Cartoons as Topic/psychology
  • Facial emotion perception

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