Taking the CAM Face-Voice Battery

This week for Take-a-Test Tuesday I took the Cambridge Mindreading Face-Voice Battery (CAM) which is another test of the ability to recognize emotions in others.

The Cambridge Mindreading Face-Voice Battery (CAM)  tests recognition of complex emotional states. It consists of short audio and video clips in which actors convey 1 of 20 different complex emotions through either their voice or their facial expressions.

The theory behind the CAM is that autistic people are able to read basic emotions but have difficulty interpreting complex emotions. Basic emotions are the ones that we learn early in life: happy, sad, angry, surprised. Most people learn these by age 6.

Complex emotions are sometimes described as combinations of basic emotions or as basic emotions plus cultural conditioning. They include mental states like stern, intimate, guarded, admiring, submissive and vibrant. There are hundreds of complex emotions and it takes us years to learn them. Generally, most people can recognize the majority of complex emotions by the time they reach adulthood.

Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions is one of many ways of thinking about the relationships between basic and complex emotions
Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions is one of many ways of thinking about the relationships between basic and complex emotions

According to the CAM creators, the emotional states presented in the clips are “higher order” emotional concepts:

  • 6 concepts from level 4 (concepts understood by typical 15–16 year olds)
  • 13 concepts from level 5 (understood by typical 17–18 year olds)
  • 1 concept from level 6 (words understood by less than 75% of typical 17–18 year olds)

The purpose of the test is to examine whether autistic people grasp these more complex emotional states. It includes both negative and positive emotions as well as subtle and intense emotional states. Each of the 20 emotions is repeated 5 times.

Taking the Test

The Face-Voice Battery has two parts. Part 1 consists of listening to 50 short clips of actors saying a phrase or sentence. You’re given 4 options for describing the emotional content of the clip. Part 2 consists of watching 50 3-5 second videos of actors silently portraying facial expressions. Again you’re given 4 options that describe the emotional content.

You can take the Cambridge Mindreading (CAM) Face-Voice Battery at aspietests.org. To begin, click on the The Cambridge Mindreading Face-Voice Battery – Part 1 (Voices) link. After entering your age and diagnostic status and accepting the terms, you can proceed to the voice clips. As you take the test, keep in mind that speed counts. In addition to a %-correct score, the test returns an “average time to answer” score. Part 1 took me about 10 minutes to complete.

Once you finish Part 1, click the “back to the homepage” link and then click the Cambridge Mindreading Face-Voice Battery – Part 2 (Faces) link to begin Part 2. Again, speed counts. This part took me about 10 minutes to complete as well.

Scoring the Test

I did well on this test–in fact, I matched the mean score of neurotypical females in the original research study. Here is my score:

You scored 90.0% in 5.7 seconds. Faces: 84.0% (42 correct) Voices: 96.0% (48 correct)

Here are the average scores from the study:

ASD Faces task: 32 correct (64%)
ASD Voice task: 35 correct (70%)
ASD Total: 68 correct (68%)

NT Faces task: 44 correct (88%)
NT Voice task: 43 correct (86%)
NT Total: 86 correct (86%)

I’m not surprised by how well I did on the voices portion of the test. “Voice data” is my primary means of reading social situations. It helped that the informational content of the phrases matched the emotional content of the voices. For example, when I heard “that is horrible” I took into account the information being conveyed by the statement as well as the tone of voice to settle on my choice of “appalled.” This is considered a “strategy” by the test creators, so basically, once again, I’m “cheating.” But it works, so hooray for adaptations.

The video clips were a mixed bag. I think I did better on the ones that had a dissimilar set of possible answers (i.e. appalled, vibrant, blank, or intimate) and the ones that I remembered to glance at the answer choices before the clip played.

As an experiment, for some trials I watched the clip and tried to form an answer before looking at the choices. On one video, I was certain the answer was “sarcastic” but that wasn’t one of the choices; I think the correct answer was “reassured.”

A few other random thoughts:

  • Am I the only one who thought most of the voice clips sounded like they were straight out of Dickens novel?
  • The use of live action videos is more realistic than static photos, but I still didn’t feel like the test results were reflective of my real life ability to read emotions.
  • I liked seeing the contrast in my voice vs. facial expression reading skills.
  • Some of the video clips made me incredibly uncomfortable to the point that I had to glance away.
  • I couldn’t find any data on the “time to answer” scores. From background reading about this type of test, I know that researchers often use the average time to answer as a metric to gauge competency. The assumption is that the longer it takes to answer, the more processing your brain is doing to produce an answer.

The Bottom Line

CAM feels more realistic than Reading the Mind in the Eyes, but it’s still far from an accurate test of the fluid way that emotions present in real life interactions.

67 thoughts on “Taking the CAM Face-Voice Battery”

  1. Huh. I scored 73.0% in 12.5 seconds; 64.0% on Voices and 82.0% on Faces. I also ended up using strategies for both (particularly when the answers were so different as to be an apparently obvious base emotion that I just translated into the equivalent complex emotion, and using the actual word content – which I think partly defeats the purpose of the test…). Because of that, I agree, the test isn’t very reflective of reality. (Also, it was one actor per “scene” – meaning any of us who can do the intellectual translation with one or two people present would have had a much easier time).

    In fact, when I took the test, I was confused by the fact that the four choices, at times, were essentially from completely different base emotions, which seemed to make the answer obvious. And then with the word choice in the voices…. *shakes head* (And yet I still only got 64% on that. Interesting.)

    Hm. I don’t remember necessarily having to look away from the scenes, but there were definitely some that made me uncomfortable.

    I did the same sort of experiment you did with the videos for a couple of them, and with the same sort of response – what I thought individually was being shown wasn’t on the list of choices for that one. It would have been a lot more realistic if it wasn’t multiple choice, but I guess it would have been a lot harder and more confusing to score in that case. (Still more realistic, though. There are a lot more than 4 pre-defined choices of emotion for each situation, and that’s what they’re trying to measure – the accuracy of our ability to *recognize* emotions.)

    Anyway, wasn’t sure what I ended up feeling about the test, other than I wasn’t so sure it was well-designed.

    😉 tagAught

    1. Translating from the complex to base emotions is a great strategy. I hadn’t thought of doing that but it’s a good way to simplify the choices and eliminate the ones that are obviously bad fits. Which probably defeats the purpose of the test! 🙂

      One thing that struck me in reading the background research was that people with AS often got insincere wrong because the word content was not aligned with the emotion being conveyed. The voice would be saying “that’s great” but meaning “that’s terrible” so I guess that’s one way that using a strategy could trip us up. I often run into this in real life and have to ask people if they’re being sarcastic or mocking me. The voice can be a tip off, but I miss the facial cues that would tell me for sure one way or the other so all I’m left with is an incongruous sense of something being off.

    2. Yes! They almost never took the options from the same base emotion, so if you can split it into the base emotions it’s almost always obvious, which seems to make it just a vocabulary test, do you know which base emotion each of these words falls under. Was that what the test was actually meant to be doing? If so, huh?!

  2. I took this test a few months ago. I don’t remember the score but I think I scored decently on it. I found those faces to be so exaggerated and hyperbolic that I laughed several times. No one I meet in public makes those faces unless they are receiving a colonoscopy. I find real life interactions to be more subtle and tougher to read.

    1. Colonoscopy, yes! Some of the expressions are very over the top and don’t resemble real social interaction. I have no idea how one could test the actual ability to read emotions in way that’s realistic.

  3. “You scored 78.0% in 5.4 seconds. Faces: 82.0% Voices: 74.0%”

    For the voice tests, I often found myself using their words rather than their tone – e.g. “Those were the days” = nostalgic. Also, for both tests, I found that the choices were often so different that you could always easily eliminate one or two of them.

    Another thing that’s really worth noting – when we take these tests, we’re 100% focusing on and listening/looking out for tone and expression. In real life, that doesn’t happen. In a conversation, I definitely spend most of the time thinking about the words used, and I certainly don’t spend the entire time staring intently at their face to work out their expression at the expense of missing their words.

    1. You’re right about our focus being only on figuring out the right answer for the test question. In real life interactions, my attention is split in so many directions that reading body language and emotions seems to get pushed way down the list of priorities.

    2. I totally agree. This is probably not the best imitation of a real-life scenario. In normal conversation, you are not 100% focused on the speaker’s face & tone (though I think that information gets taken in by our brain anyway, unconsciously). When you are a mere spectator in the conversation though, do you feel like you have an easier time reading people? If this is the case for me, it would explain why I enjoy listening to others’ conversation so much (apart from being nosey!), and why I’ve always spent so much time at the fringe of a social circle listening to everything, pretending not to stare.

  4. You scored 70.0% in 6.5 seconds. Faces: 62.0% Voices: 78.0%

    The average score for males with ASD is 63.7% in 7.6 seconds. Faces: 66.2% Voices: 61.2%
    The average score for females with ASD is 72.7% in 9.4 seconds. Faces: 70.4% Voices: 75.0%
    The average score for males with suspected ASD is 68.6% in 11.6 seconds. Faces: 71.8% Voices: 65.5%
    The average score for females with suspected ASD is 72.5% in 12.7 seconds. Faces: 72.4% Voices: 72.6%
    The average score for male neurotypicals is 70.7% in 13.0 seconds. Faces: 77.9% Voices: 63.5%
    The average score for female neurotypicals is 71.0% in 9.3 seconds. Faces: 77.5% Voices: 64.5%

    so, it looks like, women, regardless of ASD or neurotypical, score an average of between 71 and 72.7%. That doesn’t look like much of a difference.

    I used sort of a binary tree to decide. I watched/listened the clip and made a decision about whether they were feeling something pleasant or unpleasant. Sometimes that was enough to cross out three answers as not fitting and go onto the next question, especially for the pleasant emotions. Then if unpleasant, I’d translate the answers down into more simpler emotions, so resentful and grieving would become “is the face more angry or more sad?”. Since I wasn’t being asked to distinguish between angry and resentful, that worked.

    1. The average scores at the aspie test site show a much smaller gap between ASD and NT women than the average scores in the original research on this test. I’m not sure what to make of that – it could be that people in either group weren’t identified correctly or that the research groups were somehow selected to produce a larger difference. In general women are thought to do better on these tests, whether NT or ASD.

      What you mentioned about making choices based on process of elimination seems to be what many of use are doing to get to the right answer and that feels like a huge flaw in the test design because it’s so unrealistic outside of the test environment.

      1. I would speculate that people who take Aspie Tests are far more likely to actually be on the spectrum or the wider autistic phenotype than the controls in psychology experiments. I remember when I first started taking these tests I always put myself down as neurotypical, not even suspected. Even when I had a dyspraxia or NVLD label, I didn’t consider that to be autistic or suspected autistic. I bet a lot of ‘neurotypical’ identifying people who aren’t aware of their traits take these because their friends or partners are trying to persuade them to take the test so maybe they’ll begin to share the suspicion that they’re on the spectrum too. I know I’ve suggested friends who had no awareness of their traits to take quizzes like these (although not this one particularly, this one is hugely flawed), some of whom have later been diagnosed.

        1. Yes, I think inaccurate classification may be a big problem with the averages given on the Aspie Test site, which is why I haven’t included them when they diverge widely from the pattern of the study means. Not that I think the study means are set in stone, but they do look at diagnosed vs. undiagnosed for inclusion criteria and often eliminate those with 1st degree ASD relatives from control group participation.

  5. Was that Freema Agyeman in Part 2? Or was it just someone who looked like her?

    Anyway, my score was:

    You scored 87.0% in 7.9 seconds. Faces: 80.0% Voices: 94.0%

    But yeah, I thought the test had some definite issues. Any multiple choice test is made easier by eliminating the obviously wrong answers, and in this test the available options made it pretty clear which answer was the right one. The choices available were never things that might be easily confused; aside from the correct answer, the other options looked like they’d just been thrown in at random even when they were pretty clearly irrelevant. (Did anyone else notice that “knowing” was an option when the audio was someone saying “What was I thinking?”) I also thought there was some really strange word choice. Is “exonerated” really a good word for an emotion? Is “appealing” supposed to mean “making an appeal” or “finding something appealing”? Plus, the facial expressions were all held for a much longer time than anyone would typically hold an expression in real life, and I was reading earlier (I think this was in Attwood’s “Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome,” although I’d have to go back and look to be really sure) that what people with Asperger’s/autism struggle with ISN’T being able to recognize facial expressions, but being able to recognize facial expressions as quickly as they’re made in real-time – especially if they have the instinct to look away from peoples’ faces, whereas in a test like this, you have to force yourself to look at someone’s face or else just choose answers at random.

    The faces portion also made me really anxious, too, especially like the “intimate” and “confronted” faces for some reason (or at least the faces that I chose “intimate” or “confronted” for).

    1. I had to Google Freema Agyeman. 🙂 You did really well on this!

      I didn’t understand “appealing” either – in addition to the options you supplied, I also wondered if maybe the person was trying to look appealing, as in attractive. The research paper did mention that people taking the test in the lab setting were supplied with a list of definitions.

      Some of the offered choices were really bad. “Blank” came up repeatedly as an option and the last thing any of those people looked was blank. And you’re right about the fluidity of real life situations. People seem to cycle through many complex emotional states in a given conversation and sometimes they even make an effort to conceal their emotional state, further confusing the issue. I’ve found it’s often easier to just ask people what they’re feeling. Saves us all a lot of bother.

      1. Oh, they had a list of definitions in the lab?! That makes it even more bizarre! What an atrociously poorly designed test! Although I’ve come to expect this sort of thing from SBC’s research group. Like having all the sexual eyes in the Mind In The Eyes test be women with heavy eye makeup on.

    2. Oh yes I really distracted by the Freema Agyeman look-alike in the video section too!

      1. Me too, it was her, I’m sure (I have an excellent memory for faces and found that soooo distracting).

    3. And, forgot to say, thank you for sharing your observation about the length of time the emotions are shown for, I think that a very insightful point! Not only do they last ages but they don’t go blank when they finish playing so you can stare at the last frame for as long as you like. I know I have slow processing speed (I’ve had it measured in my WAIS assessment) so that’s definitely going to be a factor!

  6. Test taken on 2 March 2013: You scored 87.0% in 18.7 seconds. Faces: 84.0% Voices: 90.0%

    I found the whole thing unintentionally hilarious! The voice clips all seemed to be taken from The Archers and the acting on the video sections was amusingly exaggerated, like actors really overdoing caricatures of what different emotional states are supposed to look like – one actor reminded me of a comedy character who over-emotes, half Father Dougal, half Mr Bean! I think they may have been taken from this software aimed at autistic kids, which might explain why they’re so comically overacted: http://www.autismcoach.com/product_p/mr.htm

    I have to say I REALLY wish real social interaction involved watching something so clearly emoted and then picking for a list of four choices where only one or two could possibly apply.

    In almost every case I worked it out by logic, the basic emotion conveyed (happy, sad, angry, scared etc) and my genius level (according to my WAIS assessment) verbal comprehension skills.

    The voice test was kind of ridiculous, in all but maybe three of the cases it was obvious what the emotion had to be from the words alone and I could’ve probably scored in the 80s with only a text transcript. Is this just testing my emotional vocabulary? On the cases where the words spoken were ambiguous or they were positive but the vocal tone was negative, the tone was generally one of the basic emotions and from there I could work it out logically.

    On the video facial acting I did a lot of mimicking the acting and seeing how it made me feel. Again, I was generally only getting the basic emotion and then working it out logically from other clues and reading comprehension. It was ‘Looks sad, which of the four options is a sad emotional state? Oh, only one’. ‘They’re pulling a face but also shaking their head slightly, probably has to be the rejecting one because head shaking means no’. ‘They’re leaning in staring into the centre of the frame and not really doing anything else, probably intimate’. In some cases it was oddly educational like ‘That’s sad plus looking away, huh? …Oh well from THOSE options it must be distaste’. ‘Happy and wiggling the head around while retaining eye contact?! …well the only positive one is vibrant, so it must be that’. The ones that had to be nostalgic were all smiling while looking up to the side and sighing, ridiculously over-acted really! Also looking sad and in pain would’ve got me to ‘constipated’ but the only option available that fit was ‘appealing’ 😉

    Thing is these are clearly all really very exaggerated acting, of the type I listen to on the radio and watch on TV all the time, I know these tropes and shorthands, I really don’t think genuine emotions are ever as clear as this. And, as I’ve written about here before, in real life you have to multi-task all this with listening to what the person’s saying, working out what you’re going to say next and filtering out all the background in the environment. Also most people conceal their emotions and don’t emote like they’re a character in a melodrama.

    So I’m not actually surprised I’m good at this, it mainly seemed to be testing my ’emotional vocabulary’ (as in knowing that a word mean’t ‘negative feeling about being caught’ or ‘very angry’ etc), and literacy at reading acting performances, something I have an awful lot of experience of doing in both TV and audio play performances.

    1. Oh, those are the people from the software. How interesting. The paper I read about this test said that they recorded facial expressions and voices for 412 different emotions (coincidentally the exact number advertised). It makes sense that they’d put them to some commercial use I suppose. Though I feel kind of sorry for the kids who are being sent out into the world looking for those expressions on people’s faces.

      I found the voice portion unusually easy too, mostly because of the content of the statements. But others who took it here (and based on the published means, in other places) didn’t seem to universally make use of the content. Perhaps we both use this as a strategy in conversation and so naturally relied on it here? Or we picked up on the pattern early in the test and then decided it was a valid strategy? There was nothing in the test instructions that indicated that the content would be indicative of the correct answer and early on I wondered if perhaps the test creators would use “mixed” messages to remove any advantage the content of the phrases might convey. Obviously they didn’t.

      The facial expressions were very unidimensional–just one emotion per clip, which I don’t think happens much in reality. People’s emotions are fluid and often conflicted. I’m not sure how much people necessarily try to conceal emotions–perhaps moreso for negative or vulnerable states of mind?

      And I just realized that all of the expressions were presented against a white background by actors wearing solid colored tops. This further eliminates the visual noise that we’re subjected to in daily interactions, making it easier to focus on the face rather than the details for the surroundings.

    2. That made me laugh. Q33 of the Faces. I had to write out what I was thinking. I said “Looks like he’s straining one out. I don’t like him. Negative face. Makes me angry. The only word that fits is appealing. he must be appealing something for his negativity.”

      I suspect I have Aspergers though I do very well on the FQ and SQ tests. I like being with people. People make me happy. I haven’t got a clue what to do with them or how to function around them. But I know they hold the key somehow.

  7. My brother once compiled a ridiculously long montage of characters on The Archers saying “What are you doing here?” in an amazingly varied number of ways, expressing a surprising range of emotions. It feels like the voice test would be a lot more useful if it was only constructed of people asking that one question in order to convey the emotions.

  8. Test taken on 3 March 2013: You scored 82.0% in 15.1 seconds. Faces: 76.0% Voices: 88.0%

    The test is a great exercise (especially good for practicing verbal emotional expressions in English), but not much usefuk as a test:

    -The words give away the message. In most cases, the verbal sentence itself only matches 1 of the 4 words, which makes it super easy to select the correct one. For the voice test to work as intended, the sentences should have been in a made-up language which no one understands.

    – There is a selection of 4 words, which there never is in real life
    – The 4 words are often for contrasting/very different emotions, which makes it easier to choose
    – The face expressions are slow and exxagerated, which makes it easier to identity the correct word based on the options

    … – and the face expressions are quite unsettling! but I guess that is irrelevant.

    1. You hit on all the problematic points with this test. I like the idea of a made up language for the voice test. Nat also suggested using one neutral phrase (what are you doing here?) said in different emotional tones. Either way, removing meaning from the phrases would make it much harder.

      A lot of the faces were quite unsettling, yes! I especially didn’t like the ones that made sustained direct eye contact.

      1. Nat also suggested using one neutral phrase (what are you doing here?) said in different emotional tones.

        That is a great idea! And probably cheaper than making up a new language;-) I will read Nat’s comment in more detail. I just skimmed through it, my comment was a bit rushed this time:-)

        A lot of the faces were quite unsettling, yes! I especially didn’t like the ones that made sustained direct eye contact.

        It was a bit of a horror cabinet, yes;-)

        Ps. I can’t see your comments in my comment feeds any more (such as this one), I don’t know why. So if there is something I haven’t replied to, then it is most likely because I haven’t seen it, although I’ll go and check manually from time to time now when I have discovered it.

  9. Here is an idea for another take-a-test-Tuesday: faceblindness test. There are some fun tests about recognising celebreties’ faces on both testmybrain and elsewhere. The tests are more viable than what it sounds like. It doesn’t impact your result how many celebreties you actually know, unless you don’t know any at all.

    1. I’ll definitely do one of these. I’ve taken the one at Test My Brain (and mistook George Clooney for Shawn Connery!) so I might look for an alternative one to avoid giving myself an advantage.

      1. There is one very similar (slightly easier actually) on faceblind.org, just with different celebrities. I noticed that the topic has particularly relevance to you after reading your latest post:-)

        1. I think I’ll take both and post my scores with a note that I’ve already taken one of them before. Though it may not affect my score because I can see a photo of just about any white actress with blonde hair and not know who the heck it is regardless of how many times someone informs me of the right answer.

      2. How are you going with James Bond movies? (the old ones… where they always cast both Mr. Bond & the villain as brunette guys of similar height and shape, with similar face features;-)

        I am not faceblind (although my face recognition skills seem a bit below average), but I find James Bond movies pretty confusing because they tend to cast so similar types as the good guys & the bad guys + it is fast paced action. It makes it hard to make sense of the plot if the sides get mixed up!

        1. I’ve seen most of the Bond movies multiple times because hubby is a big fan. But I do spend a great deal of time in movies asking my husband, “is that the _____” where blank is anything from “the woman who was in the opening scene” to “villain” or whatever. I need something like unique hairstyle to key in on. Maybe that’s why I like scifi shows where the characters tend to always wear the same thing?

      3. Yep… I don’t have any issues with Daniel Craig. For the older James Bond movies (and some other movies), I ask my husband similar questions, and he does sound a bit tired sometimes;-)

        Good point with SciFi movies. No confusion of the crew members in Star Trek! Also, with ‘Aliens’ series, the villains have a fairly distinct look;-)

        My favourite movie is Moon (2009). It has a total of about 11 characters, of which only 3 are seen in most of the movie . All the other are primarily seen only on video-com-in-the-movie, most briefly, and only in their own specific context which looks totally different from where the movie takes place. Of the 3 main characters, one is a computer/robot, and the 2 other are played by the same actor. The acting (by Sam Rockwell) is so great that they never seem to be the same person, although they even wear the same clothes (at different times) etc. (but, warning: it is a sad movie). Actually, I guess that movie could be an interesting challenge for someone who is faceblind… How hard is it to tell the 2 key characters apart, based only on their expression and how worn they look?

        1. I’ve never seen “Moon” or even heard of it, I don’t think. Perhaps because I tend to stick to action movies and sappy romances. Sad movies are really hard for me to sit through. 😦

      4. Then you won’t like Moon There is not much action, most of it takes place inside a small base on the Moon in a low key atmosphere. There is sort of a remote romance (a sad one), but it turns out to be fake;-)

        I am not much into action movies (exceptions: Scifi, some action comedies, and Blood Diamonds) or sappy romances (no exceptions;-) So scifi, that is probably it for movie compatibility:-)

        1. I thought I’d done ok but scored really horrendously! Test taken on 14 May 2013: You scored 47.0% in 20.9 seconds. Faces: 38.0% Voices: 56.0%
          I found it rather confusing as my own reactions before reading the choices were never an option. Does anyone else think that these tests are rather silly. I mean, in real life, people do not walk around with tags to choose from stating their possible emotional states. Whilst it is easier to choose from a selection in a test, would it not be a more accurate test of a person’s ability if there were no options and the testee was given a blank box in which to write their OWN guess rather than being guided?
          The words in the voice test hinted to some of the responses. I agree that a better test would be to have a single phrase expressed in a variety of tones.
          From my results, it’s no wonder that I spend 90% of my time totally zoned out and clueless as to what is really going on!

          1. I know what you mean about these tests setting up false conditions under which we’re forced to choose from given options rather than relying on our gut reactions (like in real life). I suppose putting in our individual reactions would make the test impossible to score but at least it would be more realistic.

  10. I was scared to do this one. I’m female, 36, from a family that jokes about all of us being a bit autistic whenever an outsider comments on our weird conversations inside the family. Decided to look into the possibility of me being on the spectrum after unexpectedly getting fired from my perfect job (not the first time I got fired, but first time I truly truly loved my job). Finally managed to convince my GP to give me a referral for diagnosis this morning, after getting the well-known remarks about being too sociable. Did tell him I have a lot of trouble telling whether someone dislikes me. I usually find out only when they fire me.


    Scared to do this test, I said at the start. And even with all the coping mechanisms and the “cheats” mentioned in the comments. 50% for voices. 40% for faces.

    Holy crap.

    1. By the way, got so caught up in talking about me that I let my virgin comment go by without thanking you. I’ve become completely addicted to your blog in the past two days. It’s funny and honest and scary and confronting and helpful and so recognisable. I can’t thank you enough.

    2. Oh, I’m sorry you lost the job you loved. But good for you on insisting that your GP give you a referral in spite of resistance.

      Your score on the tests probably speaks to a genuine difficulty with perceiving facial expressions and tone of voice, which makes sense given your statement that you struggle with knowing if people like/dislike you until after the fact. That would be an excellent point to raise with whoever does your assessment because it impacts your work life, which would be a check mark in the “impairments in daily living” box on the evaluation.

      Good luck with the assessment and diagnosis process. I hope you’ll let me know how it turns out for you. 🙂

      1. I will definitely let you know!
        It will take a long time to officially get diagnosed, the mental health institute here has a 10 week waiting list and that’s just for the preliminary interview! But that gives me more time to collect evidence *grin*. Watched old home movies from the 50s (my mum’s childhood) up to the 80s (my brothers and me), and basically the only ones who aren’t stimming are my youngest brother and one uncle. You hardly even notice the rest of us stimming until you see how immobile my brother is in comparison. So that’s what it’s like to grow up in an autistic household. 😀

        1. Yes, it can be a very slow process but hang in there! Collecting evidence and preparing for your appointment is a great way to pass the time while you wait.

          That’s so interesting about the non-autistic family member being the one who stands out in your home movies. I’m kind of jealous. 🙂

  11. “Test taken on 29 September 2013: You scored 86.0% in 14.2 seconds. Faces: 82.0% Voices: 90.0%”
    I was surprised how ‘well’ I performed on this. I took my time and tried quite hard. The voices are easy enough to answer based on what is said let alone how it’s said but mostly the apparent tone seemed to match the content. The faces part isn’t like real life though, is it? There is no way I would be comfortable studying someone else face to face the way I studied the video footage!

  12. “You scored 72.0% in 15.3 seconds. Faces: 78.0% Voices: 66.0%”
    Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t do better job at this. I’ve always been told I’m really good at reading people. But it makes sense that I did better at faces over voices. I have a difficult time understanding people’s intentions over the phone, or in text–without being able to read their face. Faces are something I notice first and always remember. I also used to be obsessed with trying to read people and body language as a teenager. Still, my score is surprising, I thought I had rocked the voice portion, and had a difficult time with the faces portion :p

    1. That’s really interesting that you’re good at reading body language and faces. I wonder if there’s a link between your affinity for noticing/remembering faces and you’re ability to read people? My face blindness definitely seems to play into my tendency to not notice what’s happening with people’s faces, so I guess the opposite must hold true as well.

      1. Not sure. I’m pretty good at recognising faces, to the point where I could describe in detail to the police the guy who’d ripped me off for a significant amount of money (and the police officer even commented on my ability to describe so many details about him), but I’m pretty hopeless at reading facial expressions. It’s like I take in all the details but can’t assign any emotional significance to them.

        1. Oh, that’s interesting too. I rarely notice faces because I’m so face blind and know I won’t remember them anyhow. I recognize people based on hairstyle, clothing, voice, physical habits, how they walk–anything other than faces.

          1. Yeah, I see it as an offshoot of my ability to notice details in general, which is an autistic strength of mine. In people’s faces, however, it seems just as important to be able to attach emotional significance to those details (eyebrow slightly lifted? nostrils widened?), and that’s the part I’ve never learned to do instinctively.

            1. When it comes to details, I’ll notice something ridiculous like the person has a scar on their right arm or they repeat a certain word as a nervous tic. But yeah, no clue how people read faces beyond the basics. This morning my husband teasingly said, “what does this face mean” because he knew I wouldn’t get what he was trying to convey by it and he’d have to explain it anyhow.

              1. My partner does that too! He goes, “Look, this is my horny face!” and funnily enough that works: I can definitely recognise some of his facial expressions by now. 😛

  13. Oh my! My score was virtually the same as yours; except I was slower – 90% overall in 11.7 seconds. (Faces – 96% Voices – 84%) Higher than any other category type according to the web site.. So…considering your score and your diagnosis, I should not necessarily conclude that I am NT?!

    If that makes sense…:-)

    1. Faceblindness isn’t exclusively an autistic trait but it seems to be a lot more common in people on the spectrum. But there are also people who are faceblind due to other neurological differences too. Also, I don’t think test is a good measure of faceblindness to begin with, so quite possibly the scores don’t mean much at all?

      1. No, possibly not!

        For me, it also depends on my surroundings; if I am anxious I am less likely to concentrate on a person’s face. I’m usually anxious to a varying degree in social situations although I’m not sure how obvious this is as I fill pauses by chattering…

        I have just realised in the last few days how little sustained eye contact I make in most social situations, I will briefly glance up at the start of talking but then look away after a few seconds. I’ve come to realise that I find sustained eye contact intrusive and uncomfortable, like the person can see right inside me.

        With this in mind, there probably isn’t much time to get a good look at the face!

        I’m a Teacher by trade and now I know why it takes me a while to remember names :-/

        I’m very interested in your experience? Do you find eye contact uncomfortable?

        1. I generally find eye contact uncomfortable and my instinct is to look away. I have to consciously force myself to make eye contact or I’ll either look away from the person, watch their mouth (I use lip reading to help understand speech) or stare at some random body part (awkward!).

          I agree that not making eye contact or paying much attention to faces contributes to difficulty with remembering faces. It seems to just be less of a priority for some of us.

  14. Afterthought:

    I didn’t think it was representative of my ability either. Like you, I tried a few without the list of alternatives and each time found my answer absent. During the voice section, I also deduced the correct answer from the meaning of the sentence in most cases

  15. Hello! So your post was YEARS ago but I found it after wondering what people had to say about the CAM test 🙂
    I scored 80% on voices and 81% on faces, taking about 10 seconds on each.
    …So higher than the average NT scores stated on the site :/
    I wasn’t sure about the test though. Besides being creeped out by some of the people in the clips, being totally distracted by the appearance of Freema Ageyman and feeling really tired at the end, I thought the answers were all really obvious. For instance, if someone has there head down and they’re intermittently peeking out from under their lashes with their brows knitted together and their mouth relatively flat… well that’s ‘subservient’ (it sure as heck isn’t ‘joyful’)… though there is no way I would have identified that without prompts. I would have just stared wide-eyed and said ‘I dunno’ as I’d probably feel overwhelmed at the question. The answer would be in there but it would take a little longer and some flapping/slapping/snapping to get to it.
    I’m only suspected Aspergers so if I am in fact NT then is it really ‘normal’ to draw from a store of information about context clues? Almost as if I know the rules? (e.g., sarcasm tends to equal a particular drawl, overemphasis on words, a sneer with narrowed eyes or raised brows and a sort of open-mouthed smile/ grin- or course is someone is sarcastic without being so obvious or maybe being ‘short’ or just plain lying it’s much harder to tell)!

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