Lesson 6 Emotional Development and
• Emotions are subjective reactions to the environment, usually accompanied by some
form of physiological arousal and expressed in some form of behaviour.
Why are Emotions Important?
• Infants are emotional. Smiling and laughter are the first expression of pleasure
o Infants show preferences for human faces. Duchenne smiles are special smiles
an infant makes for their mother.
o Not all babies smile with equal frequency; individual, cultural, and sex differences
exist (ex. girls smile more than boys).
Theoretical perspectives on emotional development
• Genetic-maturational perspective: emotions are best seen as products of biological
o Twin research shows that identical twins show more of a similarity in emotions
than fraternal twins, supporting the biological basis of emotion.
• Learning perspective: Individual emotional expression result from individual experiences
o Experiences elicit and reinforce responses
• Functionalist perspective: emotions serve to help us achieve our goals and adapt to our
o Emotional signals (social cues) guide behaviours
DEVELOPMENT OF PRIMARY
Positive Primary Emotions: Smiling and Laughter
• Reflex smiles are a newborn’s smile, which appears to reflect some internal stimulus,
such as a change in the infant’s level of arousal, rather than an external stimulus, such
as another person’s behaviour. • Primary emotions emerge early in life and don’t require introspection (self-analysis).
Negative Primary Emotions: Fear, anger, and Sadness
• Stranger distress is a fear of strangers that typically emerges in infants around the age
of 9 months.
• Social referencing is the process of reading emotional cues in others to help determine
how to act in an uncertain situation. Infants use social referencing to determine whether
an environment is safe for them by referring to their caretaker.
• Separation protest is an infant’s distress reaction to being separated from their mother,
which typically peaks at about 15 months of age.
DEVELOPMENT OF SECONDARY
• Secondary emotions require the ability to differentiate and integrate the roles of multiple
factors in a situation, and often include the role of personal responsibility. Secondary
emotions usually emerge in infants that are 2 years old.
• Secondary emotions include embarrassment, shame, guilt, envy, and pride. These
emotions are self-evaluative and are initially only expressed when an adult is present.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN
• Sociable infants are less wary around strangers, while introverted infants tend to be shy
and get anxious easily.
RECOGNIZING EMOTIONS IN
• By 3 months of age, they are able to discriminate between different emotions. By 5-7
months, they are able to categorize emotions into positive or negative. Children are able
to recognize positive primary emotions earlier than negative ones.
• In general, children are more proficient at producing emotions than recognizing them.
The two abilities are positively correlated. Children who are skilled at producing
emotions are typically skilled at recognizing them, and vice versa.
EMOTIONAL REGULATION AND DISPLAY
• Emotional display rules are rules that indictate which emotions one may appropriately
display in a particular situation. • Culture plays an important role in how children appraise a situation, communicate
emotions, and act on their feelings.
HOW CHILDREN THINK ABOUT
Matching Emotions to Situations:
• An emotional script is a complex scheme that enables a child to identify the emotional
reaction that is likely to accompany a particular sort of event.
• 5 year olds only understand situations that lead to observable emotions that have visible
facial expressions (such as happiness, sadness, and anger). By 7, children are able to
understand situations that lead to secondary emotions.
Multiple Emotions, Multiple Causes
• 4-6 year olds do not acknowledge that you can have more than one emotion at a time.
By 6-8, children begin to understand that they can have two emotions at the same time,
and by the age of 11, children are able to recognize that you can have conflicting
THE FAMILY’S ROLE IN EMOTIONAL
• There are 3 days in which the family can influence a child’s emotional expressiveness:
o 1. Family members’ own emotional expressiveness can serve as a model for
o 2. Parents’ and siblings’ specific reactions can encourage/discourage certain
patterns of a child’s emotional expressiveness
o 3. Parents often act as emotional coaches by talking about emotions and
exploring the child’s understanding of their own emotions and others’ emotions.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF
• Attachment is a strong emotional bond that forms between an infant and caregiver that
emerges over the first 6-8 months in a consistent series of steps:
o 1. Newborns display a preference for humans over inanimate objects
o 2. Soon after birth infants learn to discriminate familiar people from unfamiliar
o 3. Babies develop att