Recognition of Emotions from Situational Contexts and the Impact of a Mind Reading Intervention in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

The present research examined recognition of basic (happy, fear, sad) and self-conscious (pride, embarrassment, guilt) emotions from situational contexts in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and neurotypical children (Study 1). Results showed that children with ASD were less accurate in recognizing fear, embarrassment, and guilt situations than neurotypical children. Additionally, the research explored whether recognition of these emotions from situational contexts could be improved in children with ASD after a 4-week computerized emotion intervention (Study 2). Following the intervention, children showed better recognition of embarrassment and guilt, but no improvement in recognizing fear. In children with ASD, significant negative relations were found between ASD symptomatology and recognition of guilt (Study 1), although ASD symptomatology did not impact the intervention’s efficacy (Study 2). Additional explanations for these findings are provided.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. 1.

    Davidson D, Hilvert E, Misiunaite I, Giordano M (2018) Proneness to guilt, shame, and pride in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and neurotypical children. Autism Res 11:883–892

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Tell D, Davidson D (2014) Emotion recognition from congruent and incongruent emotional expressions and situational cues in children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism 19:375–379

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Lozier LM, Vanmeter JW, Marsh AA (2014) Impairments in facial affect recognition associated with autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis. Dev Psychopathol 26:933–945

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Balconi M, Amenta S, Ferrari C (2012) Emotional decoding in facial expression, scripts, and videos: a comparison between normal, autistic, and Asperger children. Res Autism Spectr Disord 6:193–203

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Begeer S, Koot HM, Rieffe C, Terwogt MM, Stegge H (2008) Emotional competence in children with autism: diagnostic criteria and empirical evidence. Dev Rev 28:342–369

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Uljarevic M, Hamilton A (2013) Recognition of emotions in autism: a formal meta-analysis. J Autism Dev Disord 43:1517–1526

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Boraston Z, Blakemore SJ, Chilvers R, Skuse D (2007) Impaired sadness recognition is linked to social interaction deficit in autism. Neuropsychologia 45:1501–1510

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Tell D, Davidson D, Camras LA (2014) Recognition of emotion from facial expressions with direct or averted eye gaze and varying expression intensities in children with autism disorder and typically developing children. Autism Res Treat 2014:1–11

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Wallace S, Coleman M, Bailey A (2008) An investigation of basic facial expression recognition in autism spectrum disorders. Cogn Emot 22:1353–1380

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Shanok NA, Aron Jones N, Lucas NN (2019) The nature of facial emotion recognition impairments in children on the autism spectrum. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 50:661–667

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Davidson D, Hilvert E, Misiunaite I, Kerby K, Giordano M (2019) Recognition of facial emotions on human and canine faces in children with and without autism spectrum disorders. Motiv Emot 43:191–202

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Beer JS, Keltner D (2004) What is unique about self-conscious emotions? Psychol Inq 15:126–129

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Robins R (2009) The self-conscious emotions: how are they experienced, expressed, and assessed? Soc Personal Psychol Compass 3:887–898

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Lewis M (2016) The emergence of human emotions. In: Feldman-Barrett L, Lewis M, Haviland-Jones JM (eds) Handbook of emotions. Guilford Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Tracy JL, Robins RW, Tangney JP (eds) (2007) The self-conscious emotions: theory and research. Guilford Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Lagattuta KH, Thompson RA (2007) The development of self-conscious emotions: cognitive processes and social influences. In: Tracy JL, Robins RW, Tangney JP (eds) The self-conscious emotions: theory and research. Guilford Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Tracy JL, Robins RW, Schriber RA, Friedman MS (2011) Is emotion recognition impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorders? J Autism Dev Disord 41:102–109

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Losh M, Capps L (2006) Understanding of emotional experience in autism: Insights from the personal accounts of high-functioning children with autism. Dev Psychol 42:809–818

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Hobson P, Chidambi G, Lee A, Meyer J (2006) Foundations for self-awareness: an exploration through autism: VI. Self-consciousness revisited. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev 71:113–127

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Magnuson KM, Constantino JN (2011) Characterization of depression in children with autism spectrum disorders. J Dev Behav Pediatr 32:332–340

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Trevisan DA, Birmingham E (2016) Are emotion recognition abilities related to everyday social functioning in ASD? A meta-analysis. Res Autism Spectr Disord 32:24–42

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Baron-Cohen S, Golan O, Wheelwright S, Hill JJ (2004) Mind reading: the interactive guide to emotions. Jessica Kingsley Limited, London

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Buitelaar JK, van der Wees M, Swaab-Barneveld H, van der Gaag RJ (1999) Verbal memory and performance IQ predict theory of mind and emotion recognition ability in children with autistic spectrum disorders and in psychiatric control children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 40:869–881

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    LaCava PG, Golan O, Baron-Cohen S, Myles BS (2007) Using assistive technology to teach emotion recognition to students with Asperger Syndrome: a pilot study. Remedial Spec Educ 28:174–181

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Lopata C, Thomeer ML, Volker MA, Lee GK, Smith TH, Smith RA et al (2012) Feasibility and initial efficacy of a comprehensive school-based intervention for high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Psychol Sch 49:963–974

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Thomeer ML, Smith RA, Lopata C, Volkmar MA, Lipinski AM, Rodgers JD et al (2015) Randomized controlled trial of mind reading and in vivo rehearsal for high-functioning children with ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 45:2115–2127

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Tardif C, Lainé F, Rodriguez M, Gepner B (2007) Slowing down presentation of facial movements and vocal sounds enhances facial expression recognition and induces facial–vocal imitation in children with autism. J Autism Dev Disord 37:1469–1484

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Law Smith MJ, Montagne B, Perrett DI, Gill M, Gallagher L (2010) Detecting subtle facial emotion recognition deficits in high-functioning Autism using dynamic stimuli of varying intensities. Neuropsychologia 48:2777–2781

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Wechsler D (2011) Wechsler abbreviated scale of intelligence, 2nd edn. Pearson Inc, Bloomington

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edn. American Psychiatric Publishing, Arlington

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Schopler E, van Bourgondien ME, Wellman GJ, Love SR (2010) Childhood autism rating scale, 2nd edn. Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Constantino JN, Gruber CP (2012) Social responsiveness scale, 2nd edn. Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Rutter M, Bailey A, Lord C (2003) The social communication questionnaire. Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Chandler S, Charman T, Baird G, Simonoff E, Loucas T (2007) Validation of the Social Communication Questionnaire in a population cohort of children with autism spectrum disorders. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 46:1324–1332

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Davidson D (2006) The role of basic, self-conscious and self-conscious evaluative emotions in children’s memory and understanding of emotion. Motiv Emot 30:232–242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Golan O, Baron-Cohen S (2006) Systemizing empathy: teaching adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism to recognize complex emotions using interactive multimedia. Dev Psychopathol 18:591–617

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Cohen J, Cohen P, West SG, Aiken LS (2003) Outliers and multicollinearity: diagnosing and solving regression problems II. In: Cohen J, Cohen P, West SG, Aiken LS (eds) Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    West SG, Finch JF, Curran PJ (1995) Structural equation models with nonnormal variables: problems and remedies. In: Hoyle RH (ed) Structural equation modeling: concepts, issues and applications. Sage, Newbery Park

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Tabachnick BG, Fidell LS (2013) Using multivariate statistics, 6th edn. Pearson, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Ashwin C, Chapman E, Colle L, Baron-Cohen S (2006) Impaired recognition of negative basic emotions in autism: A test of the amygdala theory. Soc Neurosci 1(349):363

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Klin A, Jones W, Schultz R, Volkmar F, Cohen D (2002) Visual fixation patterns during viewing of naturalistic social situations as predictors of social competence in individuals with autism. Arch Gen Psychiatry 59:809–816

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Davidson D, Lilwani J, Zagorski K, Foust K, Melody B (2020) The experience of embarrassment in children with autism spectrum disorders. In: Bourque A (ed) Understanding children with autism spectrum disorders. Nova Science Publishers, New York

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Vohra R, Madhavan S, Sambamoorthi U, St Peter C (2014) Access to services, quality of care, and family impact for children with autism, other developmental disabilities, and other mental health conditions. Autism 18:815–826

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Bauminger N, Kasari C (2000) Loneliness and friendship in high-functioning children with autism. Child Dev 71:447–456

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This study was not funded by external granting agencies.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Denise Davidson.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from the school district and school principals. Parental written consent and verbal consent from the children was obtained prior to the start of the study.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Davidson, D., Hilvert, E., Winning, A.M. et al. Recognition of Emotions from Situational Contexts and the Impact of a Mind Reading Intervention in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-021-01139-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Basic and self-conscious emotions
  • Emotion recognition
  • Mind reading intervention
  • Children