PSYC18H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Parent Management Training, Methylation, Informal Social Control

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Published on 10 Jan 2015
Chapter 8: Development of Emotions in Childhood
Theories of Emotional Development
The first theory is differential emotions theory, articulated by Carroll Izard. This describes
discrete or basic emotions such as joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear as “natural kinds” based
on hardwired systems that mature during development on a kind of developmental timetable.
According to this theory, every basic emotion has a set of neural, expressive, and feeling
components that occur automatically and non-consciously in response to specific events.
The response pattern that is generated by each emotion is rather restricted and
stereotypical, but it can be modified via information processing mechanisms.
From this standpoint, emotional development is due to maturation and particular
types of interaction that lead to distinct emotions.
The second theory is based on differentiation theory by Katherine Bridges.
The idea is that infants start out with two basic emotion states of negativity/distress and
positivity/pleasure. Most differentiated emotions (such as joy, sadness, anger, fear etc)
emerge later during the development, maybe as a result of changes in hedonic tone and
general arousal.
The mechanism through which specific emotional states come to existence
involves biological maturation and interactive experiences with one’s
The third theory is the functionalist view.
This theory describes emotions as relational processes in which children establish, alter
and maintain their relationship with the environment over time, especially the
environment of caregivers, siblings, and other people.
With this model, an emotion isn’t simply an intrapersonal feeling: it has
interpersonal consequences. Emotions are profoundly social – joy towards
reaching a goal, sadness for a loved one, anger for setbacks towards goal etc.
Facial expressions aren’t unconscious behavioral/physiological responses to
emotional situations, but rather as signals that communicate to others.
Emotional Expression
Basic Emotions: Developmental Emergence
The emergence of such emotions can be thought of as a sequence of steps in building an
emotional repertoire that will support functioning in a complex social world.
Crying may indicate a state of undifferentiated distress/irritability in response to a wide
range of discomforts.
As far as distinct expressions of emotions go, disgust can be seen in newborns in
response to sour tastes.
By 2 months old, expressions of joy/happiness occur. Though babies smile during the first
months too, they’re probably not social cues.
This is inferred to indicate positive emotion.
By 3 months, they smile in response to attention from others, invitations to play, and even
mastery of goals.
Recent evidence suggests that during interactions, children’s emotional displays affect their
parent’s emotions more than the reverse.
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These positive expressions may work to increase parents’ talk, play, interaction.
Some researchers have seen infants show anger at 4-6 months, mostly due to arm restraint.
Infants make sad faces at 4 months.
Researchers found that increased cortisol levels accompanied sad expressions, not anger.
But we also see sad expressions in response to disgust elicitors.
Most evidence indicates that fear emerges at 7 months, maybe due to the infant’s ability to
move in the physical environment.
The largest growth in fear expressions occurred between 4-12 months. These effects
were moderated by children’s temperament and mothers’ level of sensitivity.
Higher levels of temperamental fear predicted more fearful reactivity, whereas
having a more sensitive mother was associated with a slower rate of increase in
fear over time.
Situations expected to elicit surprise were accompanied by freezing behavior. So this may be a
unique characteristic of early surprise reactions.
Social Emotions: 18 Months and Beyond
Self-conscious emotions begin around 18 months. They include empathy, concern-related
altruism, embarrassment, and envy.
Between 12-24 months, children respond to anothers distress by comforting, bringing a parent,
or offering an object. Ways that they like to be comforted.
By 3 years, children offer comfort in a manner tailored to the individual needs of others, such as
bringing the child’s mother.
By 2-3 years, self-conscious evaluative emotions show, such as pride, shame, guilt, regret.
Developmental Progression of Emotions
It appears that changes in visual attention parallel the emergence of smiling.
By 2 months, children show more concentrated attention to the mothers face, this
pattern of attention was closely followed by social smiling.
By 3-4 months, infants expect caregivers to respond to their overtures, when there’s no
response, sadness occurs.
Experiencing sadness is associated with a growing capacity to generate expectations for
social events and to recognize violations of those expectations.
Anger usually emerges after happiness, at 4-6 months.
Anger is usually conceptualized as an emotional reaction to obstacles.
Fearfulness emerges at around 8 months.
Fearfulness requires the ability to compare a potentially threatening encounter with
similar events in memory. Thus, fear reflects an increase in memory capacity and visual
discrimination over the first year of life.
The development of consciousness and mentalizing abilities in the second year, allows for
experiences of empathy and embarrassment. These emotions entail two complementary
Children must understand the subjectivity of others’ experiences.
Children must understand that they can be the object of another person’s attention.
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Ex. To experience embarrassment, a child must realize that they’re the subject to
social evaluations of other people. This is typically examined in the mirror-rouge
To be able to demonstrate self-directed behavior emerges around 18 months.
Also around 18 months, children become capable of understanding that they can
be come the target of others’ emotional displays.
Ex. Children are less likely to imitate anothers actions when these
dispalys elicit negative reactions from others.
Self-differentiation and self-recognition reflect cognitive milestones in the emergence of self-
conscious emotions in the second year of self.
Socially based emotions – pride, shame, guilt, etc occur between 2-4 years.
The element of cognition contributing to emotional development at this stage is
language. Children start talking about internal states around 18 months.
Children appear to understand the desire of others – such as giving the
experimenter the food the experimenter likes even when it’s different from the
food the children likes.
They also understand that fulfillment of a desire will lead to positive emotions,
and that a desire unfulfilled will give rise to negative emotions.
Another critical milestone around 18 months is children’s capacity for both cooperation and
It’s not until the age or 3 or 4 that children begin to attribute representational states to people
such as beliefs, thoughts, and knowledge.
These involve beliefs about eliciting situations. That parallels the development of social
emotions – pride, shame, guilt, etc.
Ex. “Ben may have cheated because the teacher wasn’t in the room”
It’s not until 5 or 6 years of age that children connect others’ beliefs to their emotions according
to beliefs, they may not fully understand that emotions are impacted by these beliefs.
The ability to understand oneself and others in terms of mental states (emotions, desires, and
beliefs) is called theory of mind – it’s critically important to children’s socio-emotional
As children’s theory of mind is developing, so are their language skills. Here, language
about emotion becomes part of the negotiation of relationships and enables the
development of shared meanings about internal states.
It’s the child’s maturing cognitive system that facilitates their engagement in
complex evaluative, reflective, and analytical thought in connection to an
emotional event.
Developmental Changes in Elicitation and Expression
By 4 or 5, children are often frightened by the imaginary, monsters, ghosts and scary dreams.
In early school years, fear about bodily injury and physical danger begins, and in
adolescence, social concerns become the predominant causes of fear and anxiety.
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