Lecture 8 Emotions and Temperament
What are emotions?
Rapid appraisal of personal significance of situations
o When we speak of emotions, we speak of rapid appraisal the moment you see
something you have an emotional reaction positive or negative and it occurs only when
there is substantial personal significance.
o If a child is visited by a peer for play day, and the peer takes something off the
shelf, the emotional reaction will occur only if the child will care about the toy then the
child will act in appraisal and say “that’s mine!”
o If the child is busy doing something else there will be no reaction
o Positive reaction occurs only when there is a personal significance.
Energizes behavior, prepares for action
o If you are afraid of something, there is great motivation to run away. If you are
having fun, there is motivation to play.
Emotions are important because they make the individual take actions!
Functions of Emotions
Emotions are linked to other aspects of the individual mind.
Why are emotions linked to cognitions?
o Lead to learning, essential for survival
o Can impair learning, memory
o We can see that as adults, children learn more when there is an emotional
o Our chances of remembering are increased by emotional significance.
o Stress and anxiety can blur our mind. Strong emotions that were enabling and
promoting memory can also prevent memory and impair learning.
o Emotions can also be related to behavior.
Infants who use their distress to create reaction from adults. In very early life it’s
o Children in first year of life, learn how by smiling and displaying positive emotion
towards to others, it can create communication.
o Affect behavior of others
o Regulate own behavior
o Social referencing
o Children can also use the emotions of others to regulate their own behavior.
Children use the emotion of others as information. A child coming to a novel situation. The
child makes the choice by looking at the mother’s face.
o Even looking at the mother showing strong negative reaction to a new stimulus can
cause a very strong reaction in the child and maybe even develop into a phobia.
Mother seeing a snake who is showing strong fear, the child will remember that and
feel scared too.
1 o Influences well being, stress related to diseases
o Emotions are also important because they can influence ones being and health.
Happy children are more likely to survive.
Distressed children are more likely to be delayed in development and be sick.
Cortisol hormones trigger some of the body’s reaction to stress. Cortisol is the
hormone body uses to manage stress. When there is cortisol in the system, the body is
getting ready to pump blood to the brain, heart, veins, in the expense of the immune system
which is depressed.
• This is good under short terms but under long terms it causes high blood pressure,
cardio vascular diseases. Many systems in the body can be impacted because the immune
system is not working properly.
• Studies show that children who experience long period of stress show that there are
o Example at children that were adopted who were living in orphanages. Children
were in a bad environment, were exposed to low care giving and physically deprived
environment. Years after adoption, you should still see elevated cortisol levels. They
didn’t adjust that the world is benign, not dangerous.
o In some cases there are very low cortisol level. Very low activity. This is related to
less growth, diseases, but also to behavior problems, learning difficulties.
Parenting can have an impact and reverse a lot of the damages.
o The emotions that we can find among individuals across the world; sad, happy,
o Emotions that children start developing in life.
Appear in the first year of life
From fleeting emotions to controlled, communicative emotions
o Emotions that are basic, superficial feelings, which are not used to convey ones
emotion, not based on an organized area of feelings.
First fleeting smiling
o In the very first months babies can smile, for a basic touch, food. They are just
smiling. These smiling are not yet stable for social smile.
Social smile at 610 weeks.
o Babies learn to smile in response seeing mother, father, and learn to use that smile
By 12 months: it can be used intentionally, used to evoke communication, say
34 months: first laugh
At the very beginning, babies show general distress. This general stress becomes
more of a specific emotion across time.
o Increase 46 months
o In response to pain, removal of an object, separation.
Babies respond with anger to pain, removal of object, and removal of caregiver.
o Why does it take time to develop anger?
To be angry, you need to define what you are angry at. That requires more
You also need to know that you should expect something better. There needs to be
an understanding of a situation.
o Less frequent than anger
Sadness in response of pain, removal of object.
o Mostly when deprived of a warm care giving
o After 6 months of age
Babies start to fear new situations, toys, and people.
o Stranger anxiety
8 months of age when babies start to fear new people.
Why did the cuddly baby become a fearful baby?
• It means the baby’s memory has improved and knows who the caregiver is and who
is not. Anyone who is not a caregiver is novel.
Not a necessary stage and changes between babies and cultures.
• Cultures with more caregivers will have less stranger anxiety. Those with less
caregiver will experience more anxiety.
It is also dependent on the temperament of the child. Some children are just more
How caregivers are responding to the situation > more supportive> there is less
THESE ARE BASIC EMOTIONS
More complicated emotions: requires understanding of the self. All of these
emotions are related to the EVALUATION OF THE SELF.
o It requires the understanding of the self as an individual me against them.
o Second it requires understanding of a situation
o Requires the child to think that they did something wrong, some kind of evaluation.
A child who evaluates selfbehavior.
o An evaluation of the self due to positive enforcement from the parents.
Emerge middle of second year
3 o You need to acquire the standards; you need to understand the self as an individual.
For that reason, we don’t see pride or shame or guilt likely to happen within the first moths.
It occurs close to 2 years.
Need adult instruction about when to feel them
An act of controlling more difficult to control these emotions, but it is also required
that they control. Not all emotions are considered socially as legitimate in every situation.
Many of the very basic behaviours we have, require controlling emotions. We are
controlling our desires. Our anxiety for an exam. We are able to display these emotions in
Controlling emotions is a very important basic skill.
o It is important to be socially competent.
Emotion regulation is very important for everyone’s development.
o Which emotions are experienced
o How are they felt
o When are they felt
o Ways that they are expressed
How do you regulate emotions?
o Approaching or avoiding places, people, objects
Select situations and avoid situations we do not want to experience.
Fear of the dark one way to not feel the fear, is to ask for the lights to be left on.
If you know you are good at something, you are more likely to what you are good
o Selection can be problematic if they do not require you to tackle problems.
Going into courses you know wont let you improve.
o By avoiding situations you might miss a lot.
o Problem focused coping
o If a situation is problematic, solve the problem and you will feel better.
o –Hold a party of your own change your friends
o Which aspect of the situation is attended?
Focus on something else and change your emotions by doing that.
o Distraction, concentration and rumination
o What meaning is assigned to a situation?
Change feeling by saying – not my fault, I’m learning
Focus on something specific something you have done well.
o Reframing, denial
o Changing an elicited response
4 Think of a coping challenge
o How would you manage it using each strategy?
o Which skills are required in order to engage in each strategy?
If you can’t change your emotion, you can change your behaviour.
o Controlling your behaviour, in response to your emotion.
The Development of Emotion Regulation
Executive functioning increase with age
o Enabling improvements in emotion regulation
In he very early ages children are not very able to modify their emotions. Infants
rely mostly on others for regulation. Others are providing whatever they need, whatever
Later on in life, a child is coming to a mother for soothing. Slowly children
develop their ability to regulate their emotions by themselves.
It is very important for parents to let their children experience their emotions by
o Let the child do whatever they can that is under that zone of proximal development.
When the child learns to control small frustrations, they will be able to gradually
control bigger frustrations.
Let the child have instances in which he/she is experiencing selfsoothing.
Two siblings fighting over a toy, one gets really distressed first time “will you
share?” – second time you can give suggestions “why don’t you ask your brother to
exchange” – coaching them to managing the situation without overflown with emotions.
o Children will be able to control their emotions internally by maturation.
You need to plan behaviours. Children in order to regulate their responses need to
have a plan.
Skills Necessary for Emotion Regulation
Control of Behaviour: delay gratification
o One of the best predictors of future success.
High school GPA, undergraduate GPA
o The extent of will power is a strong predictor of success in childhood and later in
Which mechanisms of emotion regulation can this support?
o Distracting one self looking away from the marshmallow.
o Change emotion to control behaviour > and change response.
Inhibition of behaviour:
o In order to control your emotions, you need to hold back.
o What is required to do that?
o You need to change whatever it is you are currently doing. The ability to override
and inhibit a response enables children to regulate th