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Psychology 2410A/B
Adam Cohen

WEEK 9: EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT • The amount of time children were able to delay requesting the treat proved to be a remarkably good predictor of their social and cognitive competence and their comping skills at an older age • Emotional Intelligence: a set of abilities that contribute to competence in the social and emotional domains • The importance of emotional intelligence is reflected in the fact that, more than IQ, it predicts how well people do in life, especially in their social lives • Our emotions, and how we deal with the, play a huge role in the quality of our lives and in our relationships with others The Development of Emotions in Childhood • Emotion: emotion is characterized by physiological responses, subjective feelings, cognitions related to those feelings and the desire to take action • Theories on the Nature and Emergence of Emotion • Discrete Emotions Theory: a theory about emotions discussed by Tomkins and others in which emotions are viewed as innate and discrete from one another from very early in life, and each emotion is believed to be packaged with a specific and distinctive set of bodily and facial reactions • Other researchers maintain that environmental factors play an important role in the emergence and expression of emotions • According to Alan Sroufe there are three basic affect systems - joy/pleasure, anger/frustration, and wariness/fear - and these systems undergo developmental change from primitive to more advanced forms during the early years of life • Functionalist Approach: a theory of emotion that argues that the basic function of emotions is to promote action toward achieving a goal. In this view, emotions are not discrete from one another and vary somewhat based on the social environment • Functionalists also argued that emotional reactions are affected by social goals and the influence of significant others • The Emergence of Emotion in the Early Years and Childhood • Parents often read into their infants emotional reaction the emotion that would seem inappropriate in the immediate situation • Researchers have devised highly elaborate systems for identifying the emotional meaning of infants facial expressions • Positive Emotions •The first clear sign of happiness that infants express is smiling •Early smiles may be reflexive and seem to be evoked by some biological state rather than by social interaction •Social Smiles: smiles that are directed at people. They first emerge as early as 6-7 weeks of age •Infants early social smiles likely promote care from parents and other adults and strengthens the infants relationships with other people •This pleasure in controlling events is evident in infants delight when they can consistently make a noise by shaking their rattle or banging a toy on the floor •At about 7 months of age, infants start to smile primarily at familiar people, rather than at people in general WEEK 9: EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT • During the second year of life, children start to clown around themselves and are delighted when they can make other people laugh • Negative Emotions • Often expressed with piercing cries and a face screwed up in a tight grimace • However, the interpretation of negative emotions is complicated by the fact that infants sometimes display negative emotions that seem incongruent with the situation they are experiencing • Anger and distress/pain are especially likely to be undifferentiated in most contexts • As children grow, understanding whether they are experiencing pain, distress, or anger does become more important • Fear and Distress • At around the age 6 or 7 months, initial signs of fear begin to appear most notably the fear of strangers in many circumstances • In general, the fear of strangers intensifies and last until about age 2 • Other fears also are evident at around the age of 7 months, including fear of novel toys, loud noises, and sudden movements by people or objects • The emergence of such fears is clearly adaptive • Separation Anxiety: feelings of distress that children, especially infants and toddlers, experience when they are separated, or expect to be separated, from individuals to whom they are emotionally attached • Separation anxiety tends to increase from 8-13 or 15 months of ages and then begins to decline • Anger and Sadness • It is likely that anger is distinct from other negative emotions by age 4-8 months • Infants often exhibit sadness in the same types of situations in which they show anger • The Self-Conscious Emotions: Embarrassment, Pride, Guilt, and Shame • Self-Conscious Emotions: emotions such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, and pride that related to our sense of self and our consciousness of others reactions to us • Believe that these emotions emerge in the second year because that is when children gain the understanding that they themselves are entities distinct fro other people and begin to develop a sense of self • The emergence of self-conscious emotions is also fostered by children’s growing sense of what adults and society expect of them • At about 15-24 moths of age, some children start to show embarrassment • The first sign of pride are evident in children’s smiling glances at others when they have successfully met a challenge • The two other self-conscious emotions, guilt and shame are sometimes mistakenly thought of as roughly equivalent, but they are actually quite distinct • Guilt is associated with empathy for others and involves feelings of remorse and regret about one’s behaviour and the desire to undo the consequences of that behaviour • Shame does not seem to be related to concern about others WEEK 9: EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT • The same situation often elicits shame in some people and guilt in others • Children are more likely to experience guilt than shame if, when they have done something wrong, their parents emphasize the badness of the behaviour rather than of the child • Children are more likely to feel guilt rather than shame if parents help them to understand the consequences their actions have for others, teach them the need to repair the harm they have done, avoid publicly humiliating the, and communicate respect and love of their children even in disciplinary situations • Normal Emotional Development in Childhood • The causes of emotions continue to change in childhood • What makes children smile and laugh also changes with age • The causes of anger also change as children develop a better understanding of others intentions and motives • The frequency of experiencing specific emotions also may change in childhood and adolescence • Evidence that overall, children become less intense and less emotionally negative with age • Some support for the common assumption that adolescence is a time of greater negative emotion that is middle childhood • The typical adolescent experiences a mild increase in the frequency or intensity of negative emotions and a decrease in positive emotion in early-mid adolescence • Children’s emotional states are highly influenced by the world around them • Depression • Serious bouts of depression are much more common in adolescence than in childhood • Major depression is characterized by some combination of the following symptoms, occurring nearly every day; depressed mood most of the time; marked diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities; significant weight loss; insomnia or excessive sleeping; motor agitation; fatigue; feeling worthless • Poorer children are especially prone to major depression, but there do not appear to be socioeconomic differences in self-reported, often nonclinical symptoms of depression • Children and adolescents who experience depression frequently exhibit behavioural problems such as conduct disorder, ADHD, and substance abuse • Possible causes of depression • Heredity • Maladaptive belief systems • Lack the regulation and skills needed for positive social interactions • Family factors - low level of family engagement and high levels of negative parental feedback are associated with symptoms of depression • Likely combination of personal vulnerability and external stressful factors • The most common treatment for depression in youth is drug therapy • An alternative therapy involves programs designed to promote optimistic thinking and teach positive problem solving WEEK 9: EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Regulation of Emotion • Emotional Self-Regulation: the process of initiating, inhibiting, or modulating internal feeling states and related physiological processes, cognitions and behaviours • The emergence of emotional regulation in childhood is long, slow process • The Development of Emotional Regulation • The development of emotional regulation is characterized by three general age- related patterns of change • The first pattern involves the transition from infant’s relying almost totally on other people to help them regulate their emotions to their increasing ability to self-regulate during early childhood • The second related pattern involves the use of cognitive strategies to control negative emotions • The third patten involves the selection of appropriate regulating strategies • The Shift from Caregiver Regulation to Self-Regulation • In the first months of life, parents help infants regulate their emotional arousal by controlling their exposure to stimulating events • By 6 months of age, infants show the first signs of emotional self-regulation • They may reduce their distress by indiscriminately averting their gaze • Between ages 1 and 2, infants increasingly distract themselves from distressing stimuli by selectively averting their attention • When they do not seek comfort, children are more likely to discuss upsetting emotional situations with parents rather than simply cry • With age, children’s ability to regulate their expression of negative emotion also improves • As children age, adults increasingly expect them to manage their own emotional arousal and behaviour • In the second year of life, they also show increases in the ability to inhibit their motor behaviour • The Use of Cognitive Strategies to Control Negative Emotion • Older children are also able to use cognitive strategies to adjust to emotionally difficult situations • The Selection of Appropriate Regulatory Strategies • In dealing with emotion, children over time are increasingly able to select cognitive or behavioural strategies that are appropriate for the particular situation and stressor • Aided by their increasing ability to distinguish between stressors that can be controlled and those that cannot be • The Relation of Emotional Regulation to Social Competence and Adjustment • Social Competence: the ability to achieve personal goals in social interactions while simultaneously maintaining positive relationships with others • Children who have the ability to inhibit inappropriate behaviours, delay gratification, and use cognitive methods of controlling their emotion and behaviour tend to be well-adjusted and liked by their peers and adults • Generally are better adjusted than children without these skills WEEK 9: EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Individual Differences in Emotion and It’s Regulation • There also are very large individual differences in children’s emotional functioning • Some infants
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