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Volume 28 Issue 1 (February 2019), Pages 1-251

It's written all over their faces: Preschoolers' emotion understanding (pages 74-89)

Abstract Emotion understanding is a multifaceted construct made up of several components. To identify how several common components of emotion understanding relate to one another, five emotion understanding tasks were compared within the same group of children. Fifty‐four preschool children (M = 3.81 years, SD = 0.40) were asked to display the typical facial expression of six emotions after hearing their corresponding emotion label. They were then read six vignettes and asked to: “use your face to show how [the protagonist] would feel,” provide an emotion label for the main character, and “choose a picture of a face that would look like [the main character].” Finally, they were asked to provide a label for emotions presented to them in photographs. For all tasks, six emotions were examined: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust. With the exception of the two modeling tasks, results show correlations among the emotion understanding tasks. There was a significant interaction between task and emotion category for emotion understanding accuracy. However, there was some consistency in the pattern of discrete emotion categorization emergence across the tasks. Additionally, accuracy scores (representing emotion understanding) across tasks were not equivalent. Findings are discussed in the broader context of emotion understanding.

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