Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Ramesh Bhatt

Abstract

Adults are experts at assessing emotions, an ability essential for appropriate social interaction. The present study, investigated this ability’s development, examining infants’ matching of facial and body emotional information.

In Experiment 1, 18 6.5-month-olds were familiarized to angry or happy bodies or faces. Those familiarized to bodies were tested with familiar and novel emotional faces. Those habituated to faces were tested with bodies. The 6.5-month-old infants exhibited a preference for the familiar emotion, matching between faces and bodies.

In Experiment 2, 18 6.5-month-olds were tested with faces and bodies displaying anger and sadness. Infants familiarized to faces showed a familiarity preference; Infants familiarized to bodies failed to discriminate. Thus, infants generalized from faces to bodies, but failed in the reverse. A follow-up study increased the duration of familiarization: 12 additional 6.5-month-olds were exposed to two-30s familiarizations with bodies, and tested with faces. Additional exposure induced matching of emotions.

In Experiment 3, 18 3.5-month-olds were tested using Experiment 1’s stimuli and methodology. The 3.5-month-old infants did not discriminate during test trials.

These results suggest 6.5-month-old infants are capable of matching angry, sad and happy faces and bodies. However, 3.5-month-olds are not, suggesting a developmental change between 3.5- and 6.5-months.

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