CHAPTER 5.docx

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8 Apr 2012

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Children display emotions and communicate their feelings, needs and desires and influence
other people’s behavior
Emotions are complex and involve a subjective reaction to something in the environment and
are accompanied by a physiological arousal and are communicated to others through
expression or action
Usually experienced as either pleasure or displeasure
As children prgogress through childhood and adolescence, their expressions and awareness of
emotions become more refined and complex
o Due to the growing “lexicon” of emotion and ability to regulate emotional arousal,
manage emotional expressiveness and process the emotional expressions of others
Primary emotions- fear, joy, disgust, surprise, sadness and interest, which emerges early in
life and do not require introspection or self-reflection
Secondary or self-conscious emotions- pride, shame, guilt, jealousy, embarrassment, and
empathy which emerge in the second year of life and depend on a sense of self and awareness
of other people’s reaction’s
Emotions function as:
1. They are a way that children let other people know how they feel
o They are a window into children’s likes and dislikes
2. Emotions are linked to children’s social success
o They are important in problem solving
3. Emotions are linked to the child’s mental and physical health
o Problems in concentration and withdrawal from social groups may be in part due
to health issues
o Or due to heightened levels of arousal
Biological perspective
o This perspective is useful for explaining the expression of basic emotions
o Emotional expressions are innate and universal, rooted in human evolution, and based
on anatomical structures (Darwin)
o Research shows that facial expression of basic emotions such as happiness, sadness,
surprise, fear, anger, and disgust are the same in different cultures
o Emotion is expressed by a distinct group of facial muscles which supports the claim
that emotional expressions are based on anatomical structures
o Genetic studies show that identical twins are more similar than fraternal twins
o Therefore, biology contributes to the expression of emotions and that children’s basic
emotions are based on and constrained by biological features and processes
Learning Perspective
o This perspective is useful for explaining individual differences in emotional expression
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o Learning experiences can also reinforce children’s responsiveness
For example, a child who receives more positive stimulation from his parents
will show more positive emotion
And they also learn fear responses from parents and other people
o Parents can help their children learn to manage their emotional expressions by
rewarding certain emotional displays or can interfere with their children’s emotional
development by being punitive and dismissing the children’s emotional expression
Functional Perspective
o The purpose of emotions, according to this perspective is to help people achieve their
social survival goals
Such as making a new friend or staying out of danger
o These goals arouse emotions
Joy and hope arise in the anticipation of forming a new friendship
Which leads children to initiate interaction with the would-be friend
o Emotions also function as signals that provide feedback that guides other people’s
For example, if people display positive emotions by smiling, telling a joke,
giving a compliment…get better social responses from others
o Emotions also function is through memories
o Memories of past emotions shape how people respond to new situation
o They help children achieve goals, establish and maintain social relationships, nd adapt
to their environments
Infants at a very young age are able to express a wide range of emotions, through facial
expression, vocalizations, body movements and based on the situation (reported by the mother)
Researchers use a detailed coding system that documents the changes in facial expressions of
Primary Emotions
Is reflected in infants’ smiling and laughter
Reflex smiles- a upturned mouth seen in the newborn that usually is
spontaneous and appears to depend on some internal stimulus rather than on
something external such as another person’s behavior
Smiling keeps caregivers nearby and thus becomes a means of communication
and an aid to survival
3-8 weeks, infants begin to smile in response to external stimuli including faces,
voices, light touches and gentle bouncing, as well as internal states
Social Smile- an upturned mouth in response to a human face or voice, which
first occurs when the infant is about 2 months old
Infants are particularly interested in people, and a high-pitched voice or a
combination of voice and face
This suggests that smiling had begun to signal pleasure, not just emotional
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These findings are consistent with the learning and functional views of
emotional development
And suggest that infant smiling becomes more discriminating as babies mature
Duchenne Smile- a smile reflecting genuine pleasure, shown in crinkles around
eyes as well as an upturned mouth
The infants smile depends on social responsiveness in the environment (as
mentioned in the learning perspective)
The difference in smiling is also related to the infants gender (girls smile more
than boys) and this pattern continues into adulthood
This difference is genetic, but it is also difficult to separate the
environment from the biological factors
Infants express joy in giggles and gales of laughter as well as by smiling
Laughter increases in frequency and becomes more social as children mature
Also appears in infancy and emerges in two phases
1. From 3-7 months of age, infants develop wariness
They exhibit this when they encounter events they do not understand
They are not afraid of unfamiliar people (In fact show interest)
2. 7-9 months where true fear development begins
They have immediate negative reaction to an even or person they
don’t recognize and don’t like
Stranger Distress/Fear of Strangers- a negative emotional reaction to
unfamiliar people, which typically emerges in infants around age of 9 months
when babies meet strangers in their own home, they are less afraid than when
meeting them in an unfamiliar location
babies are also less afraid of a stranger if they are sitting in their mother’s lap
a baby’s reaction also depends on how the parents reacts to the stranger
when the infant see the mother interacting positively with the stranger,
they are more likely to smile and approach the stranger
if the mother looks worried, the baby is apt to cry more than smile
Social Referencing- the process of “reading” emotional cues in others to help
determine how to act in an uncertain situation
Younger infants are likely to act first and look later; older infants are more
likely to check with the parent before they act
Another contextual factor that affects an infant’s response to a stranger is the
degree to which the situation allows that infant some control over the stranger’s
Babies are less fearful if they can control the stranger’s approach (by frowning
or turning away)
Infants are less afraid of child strangers than adult strangersbecause they are
smaller and have more childish features
Separation Anxiety- fear of being apart from a familiar caregiver (usually the
mother or father) which typically peaks at about 15 months of age
Fear of heights is coon as well and serves a clear evolutionary function by
protecting infants from serious falls down steep inclines
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