Children’s Ability to Causally Reason About Emotions Across Development.
Schiff, Sara J.
- This study investigated the development of children’s understanding of the causes of emotions. Prior research demonstrates that children are capable of differentiating between various emotions and can recognize emotions in others. The present study extends these findings to explore whether or not young children can recognize and understand that emotions can be caused by something external (i.e., ... read morein the surrounding environment). Ninety-six participants comprised six 6-month age groups from 12-48 months old. Participants watched two types of puppet shows: Causal and Non Causal. In the Causal shows, a target toy scared the puppet, and in the Non Causal shows, a target toy did not scare the puppet. The experimenter then presented the participants with four toys (including the target toy) and asked participants to play with the toys, determine how to make the puppet feel better when it is scared, and identify which toy made the puppet scared. We assessed participants’ causal reasoning based on their predictive looking, play, and interventions. The results of this study suggested that children as young as 1-3 years old are not fully capable of causally reasoning about emotions and only exhibit mastery of components skills of causal reasoning about emotions. Further research should be conducted to better understand how young children use causal reasoning with emotions.read less