Appearance-based trustworthiness inferences may reflect the misinterpretation of emotional expression cues. Children and adults typically perceive faces that look happy to be relatively trustworthy and those that look angry to be relatively untrustworthy. Given reports of atypical expression perception in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the current study aimed to determine whether the modulation of trustworthiness judgments by emotional expression cues in children with ASD is also atypical. Cognitively-able children with and without ASD, aged 6-12 years, rated the trustworthiness of faces showing happy, angry and neutral expressions. Trust judgments in children with ASD were significantly modulated by overt happy and angry expressions, like those of typically-developing children. Furthermore, subtle emotion cues in neutral faces also influenced trust ratings of the children in both groups. These findings support a powerful influence of emotion cues on perceived trustworthiness, which even extends to children with social cognitive impairments.
- Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
- Facial Expression
- Recognition (Psychology)