2. Department of Neuroscience, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany.
Background: Sense of facial attractiveness seems to be uniform within a particular culture and between different cultures in non-autistic persons. Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder have a different kind of perception and face-recognition compared to non-autistic persons, like a more detail-focused processing style and they show reduced activity in the face-specific gyrus fusiformis. Therefore it was aim of this study to find out if adults with an Asperger syndrome (AS) have difficulties in rating of facial attractiveness in comparison to non-autistic individuals.
Subjects and methods: 30 adults with an AS and 30 healthy controls (50% female, range of age: 18-64 years) were instructed to judge attractiveness of 36 photographs of human faces with neutral expression. According to the hypothesis that a lower sense of facial attractiveness in AS would cause a stronger randomization in their rating, data were analyzed by comparing rating variances per face of both groups and conducting a random permutation test with analyzing the p-value and the Clopper-Pearson-CI.
Results: Random permutation test demonstrated stronger randomization of ratings in the AS group than in the control group (p=0.0045). Therefore it was concluded that individuals with AS have a lower sense of facial attractiveness. However, mean attractiveness ratings per face in the AS group was highly correlated with the mean attractiveness ratings in the control group (r=0.9447).
Conclusions: Results can be considered as reflecting uncertainties in attractiveness rating in AS, indicating a lower sense of facial attractiveness. Potentially contributing factors are discussed.
Keywords: Asperger syndrome, autism, perception, facial attractiveness