Sometimes people may use facial expressions that mask how they are really feeling about a situation. For example, people sometimes “put on a smile,” even if they are actually feeling angry or sad. In this study, we are interested in finding out more about how children handle this conflicting information.
In this study, we show children (ages 3-5) a picture of either a happy, sad, or angry face. We then tell them a story involving the person in the picture. The person experiences an emotion in each story, but the information in the story does not match the emotion that children saw in the picture. For example, children may see a happy face, but hear a story like this one: “One day, my friend was in her room, and she looked like this. She had tears in her eyes. She wanted a hug.” We then ask children, “How does she feel?”
We are interested to see whether children will base their responses on the person’s facial expression, or on the information in the story.
This research will help us understand how children recognize and understand what others are feeling in real life situations.
Learn about other research related to Children's Understanding of Emotion.
This research is conducted by the Emotion Development Lab at Boston College