The present study examined the understanding of emotional transfer in 11 children with autism, 20 children with PDD-NOS and 31 typically developing children, aged 6 to 12 years. Children were asked about their emotional responses to successive, conflicting emotional situations. All children reported that preceding emotional situations would influence their emotional response towards a successive situation. Children from the typically developing group reported a stronger influence of preceding negative versus positive emotions. However, children with autism reported equal effects of preceding positive and negative emotions, and children with PDD-NOS were relatively unaffected by the preceding emotions. These findings may indicate a scripted understanding of emotions in children with autism in contrast to a more personalized understanding of typically developing children. © The Author(s), 2010.