For unlimited access to Textbook Notes, a Class+ subscription is required.
Chapter 8 ; Development of Emotions in Childhood
The Emergence of Emotions
- According to MacLean (1993), vocal sounds during evolution were momentous. They signaled the beginnings of a new kind of
adaptation as mammal-like reptiles started to become mammals, and as social cooperation began to emerge among vertebrates.
Emotions in the first year of life
- Emotional development is social development
- Tomkins (1962) : each emotion comes as an innate package with its own neural program
- Emotional expressions, then, are outward, and visible signs of inner programs.
- As development proceeds, specific emotions are expressed in forms that are recognizable to others.
- Babies’ expressions have been appealing from a research perspective b/c of the link to work on adult facial expressions.
- Steiner et al (2001) have shown that the expressions that human infants make to sour tastes are similar to those of other
- Expressions of distinct emotions other than disgust are hard to distinguish in the first few days of life
- When babies are 2 months old, adults are good at seeing expressions of happiness in their faces
- There are two schemes for analyzing babies’ facial expressions:
o Izard’s MAX with its later modification AFFEX
o Oster’s Baby-FACS an adaptation for infants of Ekman and Friesen’s coding scheme for adult expressions, FACS
- Social smiles do not emerge until after the first month or two.
- In the second month smiles begin to occur with gentle stroking, and by the third month they occur frequently in interaction with a
caregiver, a situation that we can infer is associated with happiness
- When 3 months, they smile in response to the same kinds of events that make older children and adults happy
- Lewis, Alessandri, and Sullivan (1990) have shown that smiling occurs when infants master skills
o They placed babies in an infant seat and attached a string to their arms.
o For babiesm in one condition, pulling the string turned on music. Infants of 2,4,6, and 8 months soon learned that music
starts when pulled string. They showed higher levels of interest and smiling than those for whom the music came on
irrespective of their string pulling
- One function of infants’ smiles is to make adults interested and happy
o Malatesta and Haviland (1982) found that when infants showed interest in playing with their parents, the parents’
expressions of interest also increased
o Huebner and Izard (1988) showed pictures of infants’ facial expressions to mothers: the mothers said the expression of
positive emotion or of interest would make them feel good, that they would talk, play, and interact with the baby, and
o So even before that can direct expressions at people, their smiles function to draw adults into affectionate interactions
- Researchers use Izard’s MAX coding system to code for anger, sadness, and pain distress in three month olds
- Oster et al have argued that babies’ negative expressions show only undifferentiated distress, whereas Izard and Malatesta have
argued that expressions of fear, angry, and sadness can be seen from early on.
- In Lewis et al (1990) study, where babies turned on music by pulling a string.
o Two month old babies in this condition showed more anger and fussiness when their string pulling no longer turned the
music on, than when they could turn the music on
o Anger is what we would expect in response to frustration what was seen.
- More recent study using this technique (babies arm actions turned on music and made a colored picture of a happy baby appear
for 3 seconds), Sullivan and Lewis (2003) studied three different kinds of frustration: loss of the stimulation (extinction), reduction
in contingent stimulation (partial reinforcement), and loss of stimulus control (noncontingency)
o For all these conditions, 4-5 month old babies increased their arm movements and showed anger expressions, but not
sadness, as coded by MAX
- Hiatt, Campos, and Emde (1979) tested the relation of emotional expressions to specific elicitors by presenting 10-12 month old
babies with 6 eliciting conditions.
o Hypothesis was that games and playing would elicit happiness; confronting a cliff or seeing a stranger show fear; object
vanish would show surprise.
o To conclude that discrete emotions exist two criteria were to be met:
The predicted expression should occur more often than any nonpredicted expression in response to the specific
The predicted expression must be displayed more often in its appropriate eliciting circumstances than in non
predicted eliciting circumstances
o Found that babies did express happiness: both criteria were met
o Fear met the criteria least well stimuli intended to elicit fear provoked a wide range of expressions
o Surprise was elicited just as often by elicitors hypothesized to elicit fear and happiness
- Camras et al (2002) fond that surprising events were greeted by prototypical surprise expressions in only 30.5 percent of a group
of American, Japanese, and Chinese infants of 11 months of age, as compared with 32 percent during a baseline condition in
which no surprising event happened.
o The surprising event was frequently greeted by a bodily stilling ( in 72% of the babies as compared with 12% at baseline)
- Scherer, Zentner, and Stern (2004) were also unable to find prototypical surprise reactions in children between 5 – 14 months old
- Babies who are less than a year old, happy smiling occurs in response to playful games like peek-a-boo, and anger in response to
frustration but not always clear cut
- Izard (2004) has recently said that he accepts there is flexibility in the programs of discrete emotions, and agrees with some of the
points made by dynamic system theorists to whose work we now turn
- Camras (1992) made video recordings of her daughter Justine’s facial expressions in first year of life. Also kept notes about when
each expression occurred.
o Using Izard’s AFFEX coding scheme Camras found that Justine showed expressions of disgust, fear, distress-pain, and
anger in her first months. But did not occur with expected elicitors
o Seems to be many episodes when the eliciting circumstances do not seem to be compatible with the child’s emotional
- Some researchers argue that infants’ negative emotions are only of undifferentiated distress but at different levels of intensity.
- Camras (1992) has elaborated this view: most negative expressions of infants can be coded as distress-pain, as anger, or as blends
of discrete expressions.
o When making negative expressions infants often contract their orbicularis oculi muscles and close their eyes. According
to AFFEX the only difference between codings of expressions of distress –pain and anger is that in anger the eyes are
o In young infants negative expressions certainly occur, but at different intensities: at high intensity the expression is
coded by AFFEX as distress pain, at slightly lower intensity as anger, and at low or waning intensity as sadness.
- Researchers have proposed that emotions develop as dynamic, self organizing systems.
o According to this, neurophysiological problems do not come genetically specified as ready-assembled packages. They are
constructed during early life from lower level genetically derived components, which are formed into distinct structures
by interaction among the components, and by interaction of babies with other people
- The theory of dynamic systems is related to chaos theory
- The dynamic systems theorists of psychology say, the systems of components that have their expressions, is not made up of
billiard ball like interactions of parts. It is dynamic, self organizing, resistant to disruption.
- Dynamic systems theory does not so much make specific predictions as offer a point of view in which behavior does not occur in
response to specific external causes, but is constrained largely by the inner organization of the system
- Ortony and Turner (1990)
o Componential theories: components occur together b/c they are elicited by features of the environment that occur
- Fogel’s developmental view :the components that will affect emotions do become neurophysiologically linked together, but they
did not start that way. The components constrain each other within a whole self organizing system
- Izard now agrees that self organization, as postulated by dynamic system theorists, may be important in early development of
- Fogel et al (1992) propose that in interactions of such systems with the social world, further interdependencies occur. His
hypothesis has 3 principles
o Emotions are based on self organizing dynamic systems
o These depend on continuously evolving sequences of action in particular environments, rather than on internal programs
o Categories of emotions are constructed from gradients of timing and intensity of vocal, gestural, and other features
- According to this, emotions emerge, and they derive from the interactions of lower level processes that are not themselves
- The function of emotions in the lives of infants. In the first year, before the baby is mobile, there may be no point in a caregiver
discriminating more than positive and negative emotions. Instead the parent pays attention to context to see whats wrong. Only
when the baby starts to move around and function at a distance from the caregiver would finer discrimination among negative
emotions become important
Developmental changes in elicitation of emotion
- Marked changes in the kinds of events that elicit emotions
- Scarr and Salapatek (1970) exposed infants between two months and two years to strangers, a visual cliff, a jack in the box, a
moving toy dog, loud noises, and someone wearing a mask.
o Few children under 7 months showed marked expression of fear/distress to any of these stimuli. With increasing age up
to two years, children showed more fearful avoidance of the visual cliff, and more fear of strangers and masks
o Their fear of loud and sudden movements, and of unfamiliar toys, showed different pattern: for these fear began around
7 months, reached a peak at the end of the first year and then declined in intensity
- Preschoolers are often scared by imaginary themes
- In the early school years fears surrounding bodily injury and physical danger start to occur
- In adolescence, social concerns become the predominant causes of fear and anxiety
- Larson et al (2002) confirmed the common idea that adolescence is a time of increased negative emotions. There was increasing
negativity of emotional experience from Grade 5 to Grade 9. It was associated with reduced self esteem. As the participants got
older, their negative emotional experience became more closely associated with stressful life events.
o The good news is that from Grade 10 onward, an average growth of positivity was found in adolescent emotional
experience. Adolescence, of course, is also the period of life at which sexual love first comes to be important: well known
for its downs as well as ups
Infants’ perceptions and parents’ special expressions
- Habituation – response that decreases with repeated exposure to the same stimulus. With this, can tell what discriminations
infants can make about emotional expressions
- Arelene Walker-Andrews (1997)
o Infants do recognize emotionally significant expressions from parents and others from the age of a few months, but the
expressions that can be recognized usually involve both visual and acoustic aspects
o First, infants learn that certain communications do have emotional significance. Then there is a process of progressive
differentiation so that, later, particular expressions of the voice or of the face can be discriminated
- Fernald (1989) has shown that parents often use a different voice in talking to infants than they do when talking to adults
o Infants pay more attention to this special kind of motherese and show more positive emotion during it.
o From 5 months they can discriminate affective messages
o Infants showed more positive affect to approvals, and more negative affect to prohibitions
- Nakota and Trehub (2004) found that 6 month old infants who saw an image of their mother and heard her voice looked longer at
the mother’s image when she was singing than when talking. Also moved less, implied they were more strongly engaged.
o Authors suggest that music may enhance emotional coordination between mothers and infants
- Chong et al. (2003) studied special facial expressions made by English and Chinese speaking mothers to their children. 3 are
o Puckered lips of the kind one would make when saying “ohhh”
o Mock surprise with raised eyebrows
o Exaggerated smile, but accompanied by raised brows
- By 7 months babies can match facial and vocal expressions.
- Walker Andrews (1989) presented 5 and 7 month old infants with filmed expressions of happiness and anger, and recorded the
voices that went with them. In the film the mouth did not match the mouth movements of the voice. By 7 months of age, babies
spend longer looking at the film clips of visual expressions that matched the sounds than at expression that did not match, but at
5 months of age infants could not make this discrimination
- It may be that imitation, which babies show from the first few hours of life, has emotional effects for them.