Emotions: thoughts about feelings

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Chapter 5
Emotions: Thoughts about Feelings
Chapter Outline




Biological Perspective

Learning Perspective

Functional Perspective


Primary Emotions


Bet You Thought That . . . a Smile Is a Smile Is a Smile




Secondary Emotions

Pride and Shame

Learning from Living Leaders: Michael Lewis




Individual Differences in Emotional Expressiveness

Learning from Living Leaders: Carolyn Saarni


Recognizing Emotions in Others

Cultural Context: Expressing and Understanding Emotions in Different Cultures

Beyond Recognition: Thinking About Emotions

Matching Emotions to Situations: Emotional Scripts

Multiple Emotions, Multiple Causes


Into Adulthood: Controlling Negative Emotions in Adulthood


Learning from Living Leaders: Susanne A. Denham

Socialization by Parents

Socialization by Other Children

Research up Close: Emotional Development in a High School Theater Program

Socialization by Teachers

Real-World Application: Teachers as Promoters of Emotional Competence


Insights from Extremes: When Children Commit Suicide

Causes of Childhood Depression

Biological Causes

Social Causes

Cognitive Causes

Treating Childhood Depression

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

At the Movies

Learning Objectives

  1. Define what emotions are, specifically primary and secondary emotions.

  2. Explain why emotions are important.

  3. Understand the different perspectives on emotional development (biological, learning, functional).

  4. Describe the development of primary and secondary emotions.

  5. Explain the difference between reflex and social smiles. Define Duchenne smile and explain when it is more likely to be displayed.

  6. Describe stranger distress or fear of strangers, when in development it emerges, and what factors might affect its display.

  7. Explain what social referencing is and the role it plays in emotional development.

  8. Describe other common fears (e.g., separation anxiety, fear of heights) and explain how cognitive development contributes to fear.

  9. Discuss the development of secondary emotions. Give examples and trace the development of a secondary emotion

  10. Describe individual differences in emotional expressiveness.

  11. Explain why recognizing others’ emotion is important and how it develops.

  12. Define emotional script and describe the development of emotional scripts.

  13. Describe how the understanding of multiple emotions and causes develops.

  14. Define emotion regulation, explain how it develops and its significance for development of social competence

  15. Describe the model of emotional socialization.

  16. Describe how parents, other children, and teachers contribute to the socialization of emotion.

  17. Discuss childhood depression including incidence, differences across gender, and links to suicide.

  18. Understand the biological, cognitive and social causes of depression.

  19. Describe cognitive behavior therapy for treating depression.

Student Handout 5-1

Chapter Summary

Why Are Emotions Important?

  • Children communicate their feelings, needs, and wishes to others and regulate other people’s behavior through emotional expressions.

Primary and Secondary Emotions

  • Biological, learning, and functional theories explain different aspects of emotional development.

  • Babies begin expressing primary emotions of anger, joy, fear, and sadness early in life.

  • Smiling begins with the newborn’s reflex smile, which depends on the baby’s internal state. Social smiles appear between 3 and 8 weeks. By 12 weeks, infants smile selectively at familiar faces and voices, depending on the situation. By 4 months, infants begin to laugh. Both laughter and smiling express joy and play a critical role in maintaining the proximity of the caregiver to the baby.

  • Fear emerges gradually in the first year. Babies tend to be less fearful in a familiar setting and when they feel as if they have some control over the situation. Social referencing helps them know how to behave in unfamiliar situations.

  • In the second year, children develop secondary or self-conscious emotions such as pride, shame, guilt, jealousy, and empathy. These emotions rely on the development of self-awareness.

Individual Differences in Emotional Expressiveness

  • Differences in emotional expressiveness are rooted in biology and have important implications for children’s later adjustment.

Development of Emotional Understanding

  • In the first 6 months of life, infants begin to recognize emotional expressions in other people. They typically recognize positive emotions before negative ones, which has functional value because it strengthens the infants’ bond with caregivers.

  • As children mature, they develop an understanding of emotion terms. Emotional scripts help them identify the feelings that typically accompany particular situations. They learn that people can experience more than one emotion at a time and two emotions may conflict.

Emotion Regulation

  • A major challenge for children is to learn how to modify, control, and regulate emotions so they are less frequent and less intense.

  • By the preschool years, children begin to follow emotional display rules that dictate which emotions to show under what circumstances. Culture affects these rules, and the display of such emotions as anger and shame may be sanctioned in one culture but disapproved of in another.

Socialization of Emotion

  • Parents influence children’s emotional expressions, understanding, and regulation. They serve as models for emotional displays and by reacting to the child’s emotional expressions encourage or discourage such displays. Children whose parents serve as coaches in helping them understand and manage their emotions are better able to handle emotional upset on their own and are more accepted by their peers. Belittling or dismissing children’s emotions or punishing children for their expression may prevent children from learning how to manage their own feelings and understand other people’s emotions.

  • Peers and teachers also play a role in the socialization of children’s emotions.

When Emotional Development Goes Wrong

  • Children sometimes experience extreme anger, fear, phobias, anxiety, or depression.

  • The prevalence of depression increases in adolescence and is higher in girls than boys. In extreme cases, suicide sometimes occurs, especially among some minority groups.

  • Biological, social, and cognitive factors are all potential contributors to the development of depression. Medications, cognitive therapy, and prevention programs are ways of treating child and adolescent depression.

Student Handout 5-2

Key Terms


childhood depression

A mood disorder often manifested in despondent mood and loss of interest in familiar activities but possibly expressed as irritability and crankiness and difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks.

cognitive behavior therapy

A therapy technique useful for treating depression in adolescents that teaches strategies for dealing with depressive moods and acquiring a more positive outlook.

Duchenne smile

A smile reflecting genuine pleasure, shown in crinkles around the eyes as well as an upturned mouth.

emotion regulation

The managing, monitoring, evaluating, and modifying of emotional reactions to reduce the intensity and duration of emotional arousal.

emotional display rule

An implicit understanding in a culture of how and when an emotion should be expressed.

emotional script

A scheme that enables a child to identify the emotional reaction likely to accompany a particular event.


A shared emotional response that parallels another person’s feelings.

learned helplessness

A feeling that results from the belief that one cannot control the events in one’s world.

primary emotions

Fear, joy, disgust, surprise, sadness, and interest, which emerge early in life and do not require introspection or self-reflection.

reflex smile

An upturned mouth seen in the newborn that is usually spontaneous and appears to depend on some internal stimulus rather than on something external such as another person’s behavior.

secondary or self-conscious emotions

Pride, shame, guilt, jealousy, embarrassment, and empathy, which emerge in the second year of life and depend on a sense of self and the awareness of other people’s reactions.

separation anxiety

Fear of being apart from the familiar caregiver (usually the mother or father) which typically peaks at about 15 months of age.

social referencing

The process of “reading” emotional cues in others to help determine how to act in an uncertain situation.

social smile

An upturned mouth in response to a human face or voice, which first occurs when the infant is about 2 months old

stranger distress or fear of strangers

A negative emotional reaction to unfamiliar people, which typically emerges in infants around the age of 9 months.


Duplay smile

egocentric empathic distress

emotion coaching

emotional competence

emotional expressiveness

learned helplessness

Max Emotion Coding System

mixed emotions

play smile

quasi-egocentric empathic distress

rudimentary empathic responding

self-conscious emotions

simple smile

social signaling system

true empathic distress

visual cliff

Practice Exam Questions

  1. Which of the following emotions typically emerges first: (a) pride (b) *sadness (c) jealousy (d) guilt

  2. Secondary emotions: (a) emerge in infancy (b) do not require introspection to emerge (c) *depend on an awareness of others’ reactions (d) do not require a sense of self

  3. Emotional expressions: (a) are culture specific (b) involve an objective reaction to something in the environment (c) *are generally accompanied by physiological arousal (d) are evident only in the second half of the first year

  4. Babies smile more at familiar faces than unfamiliar ones at about: (a) 1 year (b) 9 months (c) 6 months (d) *3 months

  5. The process of reading emotional cues in others to help determine how to act in an uncertain situation is called: (a) using emotional display rules (b) following an emotional script (c) experiencing empathy (d) *social referencing

  6. 40. By the time children are 3 years old, solving a problem that is not particularly difficult elicits ______, but succeeding on a difficult task produces ______: (a) joy, sadness (b) joy, anxiety (c) *joy, pride (d) joy, guilt

  7. Cross-cultural research on the timetable of emotional recognition suggests that: (a) compared with children from the U.S., Japanese preschool children are faster at recognizing negative emotions (e.g., anger) and positive emotions (e.g., joy) (b) compared with children from the U.S., Japanese preschool children are faster at recognizing negative emotions (e.g., anger) (c) compared with children from the U.S., Japanese preschool children are faster at recognizing positive emotions (e.g., joy) (d) *children from different cultures follow a similar timetable for recognizing basic emotions

  8. The process of monitoring, managing, and modifying emotional reactions to reduce the intensity and duration of emotional arousal is known as: (a) following an emotional script (b) expressing a secondary emotion (c) knowing emotional display rules (d) *emotional regulation

  9. Compared with younger adults, older adults: (a) distort their memories to make them more emotionally gratifying (b) experience fewer negative emotions (c) are less likely to confront their emotions (d) *all of the above

  10. If parents are positive and provide comfort when interacting with their children, the children are more likely to: (a) know how emotions should be displayed (b) develop constructive reactions to anger (c) regulate their emotions better (d) *all of the above

  11. The PATHS Head Start curriculum designed to facilitate children’s emotional competence shows success at: (a) *increasing emotional vocabulary (b) reducing aggression and attention problems at home (c) increasing reading skills (d) a and b but not c

1. How is emotional regulation expressed in infancy and in preschool?

2. Discuss the role of social referencing in social development and describe how it changes with development.

3. Give three reasons that emotions are important for children’s social development.
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