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Underlying process in the socialization of emotion

Capatides, Joanne Bitetti; Bloom, Lois

The focus in this research was on what and how children learn about emotion from input they receive in the moments when mothers respond to their emotional expressions. The database for the study consisted of video-recorded observations of 12 first-born children (6 boys, 6 girls) at 9, 13, 17, and 21 months, in a laboratory playroom with their mothers during free play with toys and a snack. The children’s affect expressions were coded continuously according to gradient properties of valence and intensity. Mothers responded to the majority (80%) of their children's positive and negative emotional expressions. Although children’s negative expressions were relatively infrequent, mothers responded more frequently to negative (88%) than to positive expressions (72%). The relative frequency of mothers' responses remained stable over time and across gender and language ability. However, as the children acquired language, mothers were more likely to use language themselves, and correspondingly less likely to express affect in response to their children's emotional expressions. As expected, they responded primarily to facilitate positive affect and discourage negative affect. The most frequent form of mothers’ response (66%) was action-related, as they acted and/or encouraged a child to act in a goal-directed way, and this form of responding did not change from 9 to 21 months. Mothers talked about their children's goals and/or the situations in which their emotions occurred, and about their own actions as they either acted themselves or encouraged their children to act in order to achieve their goals.


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Also Published In

Advances in Infancy Research

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Academic Units
Human Development
Published Here
June 7, 2017