PSYC18 Psychology of Emotion
Chapter 8 – Development of Emotions in Childhood
Emergence of Emotions
During development, specific emotions are expressed in recognizable forms.
Expression of disgust is seen in newborns following sour taste. By 2 months, adults are better at
distinguishing happy expressions.
Using AFFEX or Baby-FACS for coding facial expressions – babies smile occasionally, but do not socially
smile until after first month or two.
By 3 month, they occur frequently in interaction with caregiver.
Mastery of skills makes infants happy – smiling occurs.
Their smiles also function to draw adults into affectionate interactions.
Expression time of distinct negative emotions is more problematic – occurs in ~3 month.
2month-old babies show anger/fussiness when string-pulling no longer turned music on.
Testing the relation of emotional expressions to specific elicitors, 2 criteria for discrete emotions are:
1) Predicted expression occurs more often than non-predicted
2) Predicted expression displayed more often in appropriate eliciting circumstance than non-
Happiness met both criteria well
Fear met criteria least – stimuli intended to elicit fear provoked wide range of expressions; more
non-predicted expressions than fear expressions).
Surprise met one criterion well – predicted expressions were seen more than non-predicted;
however, surprise was elicited just as often by elicitors of fear and happiness.
- 30% babies show prototypical surprise to appropriate elicitor of surprise.
Emotions may dynamically form
Partial expressions may occur during development that may seem inappropriate.
Some argue that negative emotions are only of undifferentiated distress in infants at different levels of
intensities – they often contract their orbicularis oculi muscles and close their eyes.
High intensity distress-pain
Moderate intensity anger
Low intensity sadness
Fogel – emotions develop as self-organizing systems
Neurophysiological programs (of emotions) exist in packages that are constructed during early life
into more distinct structures – certain interactions among parts of system maintain form of emotion.
- Components that affect emotions become neurophysiologically linked, but do not start that way
Many biological systems have self-organizing properties – follows chaos theory.
Fogel hypothesized that emotions are based on self-organizing dynamic systems that depend on
continuously evolving sequences of action in environments (rather that internal programs), and
emotion categories are constructed from gradients of timing, intensity of vocal, gestural feature, etc Developmental Changes in Elicitation of Emotion
There are marked changes in events that elicit emotions.
Few children <7 months show fear/distress to jack/cliff/strangers/mask/loud nose
- Increasing age to 2 = more fear in cliff/strangers/mask.
- Fear of loud/sudden movements & unfamiliar toys apparent in 7 months, peak at year, then
declines in intensity afterwards.
Preschoolers – fear imaginary themes (e.g. ghosts)
Elementary kids – fear physical injury/danger
Adolescence – social concerns become predominant cause of fear – sexual love & esteem become
important issues. As they get older, negative emotional experience become more associated with
stressful life events. Grade 10 onwards, there’s average growth of positivity in emotional
Infants’ perceptions and parents’ special expressions
Habituation – infants look at patterns that are new to them, longer than patterns that are familiar.
Presented happy face picture, infant will look long time – presented another, tend to look briefer.
Presented with sad face, will look longer since it’s a new face.
Motherese – special voice parents use to talk to their infants – infants show more positive emotion
during its use.
Show more positive affect to approval, and negative affect to prohibition
Music (e.g. lullabies) may enhance emotional coordination between mothers and infants
Special Facial Expressions – Same function as motherese, 3 are prominent:
1) Puckering lips to say “ooooh”
2) Raised eyebrows for mock surprise
3) Exaggerated smile with raised brows
At 7 months, babies can match facial and vocal expressions.
Internal feedback of facial actions when infants mimic adult emotional expressions could evoke
emotions in the child – important in sharing affect with caregiver.
Preschoolers – labelling happy, angry and sad (in order) emerges early; later on – scared, surprised and
disgusted. Shy children misidentify anger more.
Bowlby – the species-characteristic pattern of attachment is central to human emotional development.
When mother is present, there is a sense of security, and a distinctive set of actions occurs.
Imprinting – baby goslings instinctively stay close to and follow any moving object that makes sound
- Critical period = 2 days; if there is no real mother, the first plausible moving object is learned
instead – irreversible.
Harlow – attachment to parent is based on need for comfort in monkeys.
Given mother made with wire, and one made with wire topped by cloth, infant monkeys (within 12
hours birth) will spend most time with clothed wired, regardless of which apparatus supplies milk.
- Scared; they’d cuddle with clothed wire – used “her” as base for exploration. Kraemer – monkeys born to surrogates abnormal eating/drinking, stereotyped/repetitive behaviour,
poorer in cognitive tasks, bites own limbs, express fear & threat at same time, sexual incompetent,
bipolar, kills/ignores infant is artificially made pregnant.
- Most damaging when reared by artificial mother in first 6 months of life.
- Given peers who they can cling to, groom, etc, and they can recover some aspects of normal
social functioning remain abnormal to stress and conflict.
Socio-emotional building-potential of attachment is innate – species characteristic.
The principal emotion of attachment is anxiety
Cry to the caregiver brings her close – separation causes stress
Separation Distress begins 2 ½ of 1 year and peaks 15-18 months
- Orphans who do not attach to particular caregiver do not have separation anxiety.
Goal state for attachment is for mother and baby to be close to each other.
Goal Corrected Partnership (Bowlby) – which enables cooperation between 2 individuals that allows
them to achieve mutual goals – through cognitive maturity and repeated interactions, child
develops model of other person’s desires & intentions.
Kochanska – between ages 1 – 15 months, children increase frequency of attempts to influence parents,
parents more responsive to positive overtures, & parents decrease frequency to attempts to influence
Parents perform Attunement – keeping in time with baby, they read baby’s signals, alter environment to
maintain best level of stimulation for baby – e.g. mirroring baby smiles.
Experiment when mothers demonstrate flat effect (no emotions or touching, monotone, &
minimal body movement) to baby, the baby shows more wary expressions & protests, and briefer
positive expressions – i.e. stiff-face paradigm.
Adult emotions function to help regulate interaction with baby.
Mutual regulation model