Face perception and facial emotional expression recognition ability: Both unique predictors of the broader autism phenotype

Gilles E. Gignac, Romina Palermo, Ellen Bothe, Dana L. Walker, Jeremy B. Wilmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the broader autistic phenotype (BAP) have been suggested to be associated with perceptual–cognitive difficulties processing human faces. However, the empirical results are mixed, arguably, in part due to inadequate samples and analyses. Consequently, we administered the Cambridge Face Perception Test (CFPT), the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), a vocabulary test, and the Autism Quotient (AQ) to a sample of 318 adults in the general community. Based on a disattenuated path analytic modelling strategy, we found that both face perception ability (β = –.21) and facial emotional expression recognition ability (β = –.27) predicted uniquely and significantly the Communication dimension of AQ. Vocabulary failed to yield a significant, direct effect onto the Communication dimension of the AQ. We conclude that difficulties perceiving information from the faces of others may contribute to difficulties in nonverbal communication, as conceptualised and measured within the context of BAP.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

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