CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Adults' Emotional States and Recognition of Emotion in Young Children


This study addressed the degree to which adults'' emotional states influence their perception of emotional states in children and their motivation to change such states. Happiness, sadness, anger, or a neutral state was induced in adults, who then viewed slides of 4-year-old children who were actually experiencing various emotional states. Adults'' own emotional states had little impact on their accurate recognition of children''s emotions or on their motives for social action to change such emotions. However, adults'' states did influence the intensity they assigned to children''s emotions, with happy adults tending to rate some emotions as more intense for black children (sadness) and for girls (anger and neutrality). The base rates with which adults used different emotion labels also influenced judgments, increasing it for the recognition of happiness and reducing it for anger. The results are discussed in terms of the factors that influence whether or not emotional states affect judgment processes and the role of emotion labels in the effective recognition of ongoing emotional states. Also addressed is the consequence of adults'' recognition of emotion in children for the effective socialization of emotion.

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