PSY210 Ch.10 Emotional Development 10/25/2012 2:41:00 PM
1. Functions of emotions
2. Development of emotional expression
3. Understanding & responding to the emotions of others
4. Temperament & development
5. Development of attachment
6. Attachment, parental employment & childcare
1. Functions of emotions
Emotion: is a rapid appraisal of the personal significance of the
situation, which prepares you for action.
o “how personally significant is the situation?” Action
E.g. Happiness leads you to approach.
E.g. Sadness to passively withdraw
E.g. Fear to actively move away
E.g. Anger to overcome obstacles
An emotion then, expresses your readiness to establish, maintain,
or change your relation to the environment on a matter of
importance to you.
Functionalist approach to emotion: emphasizes that the broad
function of emotions is to energize behaviour aimed at attaining
o Emotions & cognitive processing
Emotional reactions = learning = SURVIVAL
Emotions can also powerfully affect memory. (Fearful
events = more anxiety = remembered better)
The relationship between emotion and cognition is
Ex. Children & string pulling for happy stimuli
stimuli turned off after a while children’s
emotions changed some angry, some sad.
Once the happy stimuli was restored…
o Children who reacted angrily were
interested again o Children who reacted sadly, turned
o Emotions & social behaviour
Children’s emotions affect the behaviour of others.
Similarly, the emotional reactions of others regulate
children’s social behaviour.
By 3 months, a complex communication system is in
place between caregiver/infant interaction, in which
each partner responds in an appropriate and carefully
times fashion to the other’s cues.
Cross cultural built in withdrawal response to
caregivers’ lack of communication
(when caregiver gives a different response,
such as a blank still-face, than what the
baby is accustomed to…e.g. depressed
With age, emotional expressions become deliberate
means through which infants communicate, and babies
monitor the emotional expressions of others to assess
their intentions and perspectives.
By 9 months: infant become initiators – smiling
before the caregiver smiles.
By 1 year: Babies become more skilled at joint
attention – following the caregivers line of regard.
Social referencing: Babies check their
caregivers expression for how they are to
respond to new stimuli.
o Emotions & health
Emotions influence children’s physical well-being.
E.g.1. Stress & sickness cycle
E.g.2. Orphans in orphanage for longer than other
children adopted sooner… 2 outcomes:
A. Emotionally deprived children Stress
HIGH concentrations of cortisol
o = Persistent illness and learning and
behaviour problems, deficits in concentration and control of anger
and other impulses.
B. Emotionally deprived children Stress
Abnormally LOW cortisol blunted
physiological stress response (adaptation to
earlier, frequent cortisol elevation)
o = Low cortisol interferes with release
of growth hormone (GH), and thus
can stunt children’s physical growth.
Sensitive adult care helps normalize cortisol production
in both typically developing as well as emotionally
o Other features of the functionalist approach
Self-awareness: Emotions contribute to the emergence
Sense of self-efficacy: confidence in a child’s own
ability to control events in their surroundings (e.g.
by acting on a novel object)
Self-conscious emotions: Expressions of pride and
embarrassment, which have to do with evaluating the
self’s goodness/badness in relation to standards for
morality/social behaviour/task mastery.
Emotional self-regulation: Children must gain control
over their emotions as they get older.
2. Development of emotional expression
Analyzing infant’s facial patterns carefully to determine the range of
emotions they display at different ages.
In line with dynamic systems perspective – emotional
expressions vary with the person’s developing capacities, goals and
o Basic emotions: Happiness, interest, surprise, fear, anger,
sadness, disgust – are universal in humans and other
primates and have a long evolutionary history of promoting
survival. Babies & Happiness, anger, sadness, and fear.
Child’s happiness encourages caregivers to be
affectionate and stimulating, which makes the baby
smile even more.
Babies smile when full, during REM sleep, and in
response to gentle touches and mothers voice.
Between 6-10 weeks, the parent’s communication
evokes a broad grin called the social smile
After 1 year – smile becomes a deliberate social
signal used by the baby.
Between 3-4 months, laughter appears, and reflects
faster processing of information than smiling.
o Anger & Sadness
Distress response to unpleasant experiences (hunger,
pain, change in body temperature, too much/little
From 4-6 months into the 2 year, angry expressions
increase in frequency and intensity.
Angry reactions increase with age, as infants become
capable of intentional behaviour and want to control
their own actions and the effects they produce. They
will purposefully try to change an undesirable situation.
Sadness occurs when infants are deprived of a familiar,
loving caregiver or when caregiver-infant
communication is seriously disrupted (e.g. A mother
becoming more depressed)
Like anger, fear rises from 4-6 months into the 2 nd
The most frequent expression of fear is to unfamiliar
adults – a response called stranger anxiety.
Reaction to strangers depends on the child’s:
Past experiences with strangers
The current situation Stranger’s style of interaction
Rise in fear after 6 months keeps newly mobile babies’
enthusiasm for exploration in check. Once wariness
develops, infants use the familiar caregiver as a secure
base, or point from which to explore, venturing into the
environment and then returning for emotional support.
Encounters with strangers lead to 2 conflicting
tendencies which the infant’s behaviour is balanced
1. Approach (interest, friendliness)
2. Avoidance (fear).
Fear wanes as cognitive development permits toddlers
to discriminate more effectively between threatening
and nonthreatening people and situations.
o Humans are capable of a second, higher-order set of
feelings…self-conscious emotions including guilt, shame,
embarrassment, envy and pride.
These are called self-conscious emotions as each
involves injury to or enhancement of our sense of self.
Between 18-24 months infants become firmly aware of
the self as a separate, unique individual.
Self-conscious emotions appear in the middle of the 2
Envy emerges by age 3.
Self-conscious emotions are made of 2 ingredients
Learned response = Adult instruction in when to
feel proud, ashamed, guilty.
o Emotional self-regulation
Emotional self-regulation refers to the strategies we
use to adjust our emotional state to a comfortable level
of intensity so we can accomplish our goals. Done by: Attention focusing/shifting, inhibiting
thoughts/behaviour, planning, actively relieving
It requires effortful control and management of
emotions, which improves with the development of the
prefrontal cortex and the assistance of caregivers.
Limited capacity to regulate their emotional
states. Easily overwhelmed. Depend entirely on
the comfort of caregivers for distraction and
reorienting of attention.
Between 2-4 months
= prefrontal cortex increases capacity to
Between 4-6 months
= the ability to shift attention and engage
in self-soothing helps infants control
End of 1 year
= crawling & walking enable infants to
regulate emotion more effectively by
approaching/retreating from various
When caregivers fail to regulate stressful
experiences for infants who cannot yet
regulate them for themselves, brain
structures that buffer stress may fail to
develop properly, resulting in an anxious,
emotionally reactive child who has a
reduced capacity for managing emotional
In the 2 year
= gains in representation & language allow
for new ways in regulating emotion.
Patient, sensitive parents encourage
toddlers to describe their internal states. So when 2 year old feels distressed, they
can guide adults into helping them.
After the 2 year
= Children talk a lot more about feelings.
By age 3-4
= Preschoolers verbalize a variety of
emotional self-regulation strategies.
Blunting emotions by restricting sensory
input (covering eyes/ears in scary movie)
Talking to themselves (“Mama will be back
soon she said”
Changing their goals (deciding they don’t
want to play anymore, after being excluded)
Middle childhood & adolescence
= rapid gains in emotional, self-regulation occur
after school entry, as emotion regulation
strategies become more varied, sophisticated and
Between ages 6-8
Children become more aware of the
difference between feeling an emotion and
Mental level of emotional self-
communication emerges and helps children
reflect on their emotions, and therefore,
By age 10
= Most children shift adaptively between
two general strategies for managing
o Problem-centered coping: they
appraise the situation as changeable,
identify the difficulty, and decide what
to do about it. o Emotion-centered coping: Which is
internal, private, and aimed at
controlling distress when little can be
done about an outcome (used if
problem-centered coping didn’t work).
Good development of emotional self-
regulation = a sense of emotional self-
efficacy. (the feeling of being in control of
ones emotional experience).
o Acquiring emotional display rules
All societies have emotional display rules that specify
when, where, and how it is appropriate to express
Parents encourage infants to suppress negative
emotion by often imitating their expressions of
interest (happiness/surprise) but rarely imitating
their expressions of anger & sadness.
For baby boys especially, in part because
boys have a harder time regulating negative
Social pressures for boys to appear less
Social pressures to foster harmonious
relationships, by teaching children to
communicate positive feelings and inhibit
unpleasant emotional displays.
Collectivist vs. individualistic cultural differences.
3. Understanding & responding to the emotions of others
Some researchers claim that young babies respond in kind to others
emotions through built in, automatic process of “emotional
Others however, believe that infants acquire these emotional
contingencies through operant conditioning – e.g. learning that a smile generally triggers caregiver responsiveness and that distress
prompts a comforting response. (NURTURE)
o By 3 months: infants can match the emotion in a voice with
the appropriate face of a speaking person. They become
sensitive to the structure and timing of face-to-face
o By 5 months: infants perceive facial expressions as organized
patterns (meaningful wholes), and they can match the
emotion in a voice with the appropriate face of a speaking
o Between 7-12 months: ERP’s recorded while infants attend to
facial expressions reveal reorganized brain wave patterns
resembling those of adults, suggesting enhanced processing
of emotional cues.
Once these understandings are in place, infants actively seek
emotional information from trusted caregivers.
o Relying on another persons emotional reaction to appraise an
o Caregivers emotional expression & tone of voice in reaction to
a novel object/event influences the child’s reaction.
o Social referencing allows toddlers to compare their own and
others assessments of events.
o In social referencing, toddlers move beyond simply reacting
to others emotional messages. They use those signals to
evaluate the safety and security of their surroundings, to
guide their own actions, and to gather information about
others intentions and preferences.
o Emotional understanding in childhood
Cognitive development & emotional understanding
Children refer to causes, consequences and
behavioral signs of emotion, and over time their
understanding becomes more accurate and
complex. Age 4-5 = Child can judge the causes of many
basic emotions. They emphasize external factors
over internal states, a balance that changes with
They realize both desires and beliefs
THEN they learn how internal factors can
Can anticipate the intentions and actions of
Older children agree that an event can spark
mixed emotions, each of which may be positive or
negative and may differ in intensity. But a
preschooler will deny that two emotions can occur
at once, as they do not integrate 2 variables (like
Piaget & conservation task)
Metacognition (thinking about thought)
encourages gains in thinking about emotion in
Social experience & emotional understanding
Parents who encourage expression and discussion
about emotion will have children who are better
developed in their emotional understanding.
The use of scaffolding (Vygotsky) to
increase emotional awareness and
understanding in children by the caregiver
Make-believe play as a context for early
learning about emotions with others.
Knowledge about emotions help children to get
along with others by acknowledging others
emotions and explaining their own.
Empathy & sympathy
o Empathy involves a complex interaction of cognition and
affect: the ability to detect different emotions, to take another’s emotional perspective and to feel with that person,
or respond emotionally in a similar way.
Empathy as a motivator of prosocial/altruistic
behaviour – actions that benefit another person
without any expected reward for the self.
o Sympathy – feelings of concern or sorrow for another’s
o Development of empathy
GLOBAL EMPATHY: Newborn babies cry in response to
the cry of another baby
Matching of others emotional expressions
EGOCENTRIC EMPATHY: Like self-conscious emotions,
empathy requires children to understand that the self is
distinct from other people.
EMPATHY FOR ANOTHERS FEELINGS: Affective
perspective taking: older toddlers can infer how another
feels by imagining themselves in that persons place.
EMAPTHY FOR ANOTHERS LIFE CONDITIONS: others
feel because of immediate situation + life conditions.
Empathy for entire groups of people. = more
perspective taking + more abstract
o Individual differences
Temperament affects whether empathy occurs and
whether it prompts sympathetic, prosocial behaviour or
a personally distressed, self-focused response.
Twin studies = empathy is moderately heritable
Parental modeling important for helping children to be
who are good at regulating emotion are more
EEG brain wave activity - mild increase in the left
hemisphere (which houses positive emotion)
Aggressive children: show high hostility, and many negative feelings
which contribute towards a weakened ability to
EEG increase in the right hemisphere (which
houses negative emotion) = they are
overwhelmed by negative emotion when viewing
a person in distress. Little empathy disp