Chapter Eleven: Emotions
What are emotions?
Emotions are a complex set of behaviors produced in response to some external
or internal event, or elicitor, which serve to motivate and direct thoughts and
actions. Emotions have certain components;
Physiological component, involving changes in autonomic nervous system
activities such as respiration and heat rate.
Expressive component, usually a facial display that signals the emotion
such as smiles, grimaces, cries and laughter.
Experiential component, the subjective feeling or cognitive judgment of
having an emotion.
The functions of emotions:
Children who show an interest in certain objects or topics – a strong feeling of
attraction or pleasure – pay more attention to those stimuli and remember them
better in a subsequent memory test compared with objects that do not interest
Emotions serve to initiate, maintain, or terminate interactions with others.
“Moods” are more enduring emotional states that may help us understand
the child’s personality attributes, such as the tendency to be shy,
dependent, or aggressive.
Can record changes in physiological functions such as heart rate
(acceleration or deceleration).
Heart rate variability (the individual’s basic heart rate pattern).
Electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns showing brain activity as affective
stimuli are presented.
A new technology is positron emission tomography (PET) and functional
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Another technique is to conduct fine-grained analyses of the child’s facial
expressions or vocalizations.
A child interprets his or her own emotions through self-report measures and
tasks requiring children to label, match, or produce emotional expressions.
Theoretical perspectives on emotional development:
Biologically based explanations:
Paul Ekman concluded that there are universal facial expressions for
certain basic emotions that are interpreted in similar ways across cultures.
Carroll Izard says that infants show a small set of discrete emotions (joy,
anger, fear, sadness, interest and disgust). With development, these
emotions becomes more interrelated and connected to cognition. These
patterns of emotions eventually become organized as personality traits
that vary per individual. A cognitive-socialization explanation
According to Michael Lewis and Linda Michalson, environmental events do not
directly produce an emotional expression. Instead, the child relies on cognitive
processes to assess the event, how it compares with past events, and the social
rules surrounding the event.
C0gnitive processes act as mediators or mental events that bridge the gap
between environmental stimuli and the response the individual ultimately
Socialization plays a