For adults, sadness and anger are two different emotions. This study investigates children's understanding of the differences between sadness and anger.
In one part of this study, we show children (ages 2-3) photographs of different facial expressions, including some faces that are expressing Anger, Sadness, Happiness, or other emotions. Then we ask them what emotion they see: For example, “Is the person sad?”, or “Are they angry?” In another part of the study, we tell children brief stories about events that are associated with different emotions. For example, children may hear a story like: “Alice wanted to play outside but it was raining.” The stories might describe either events that could cause particular emotions (e.g., not being able to play outside), or behaviors that are consequences of those emotions (e.g., crying or yelling). After each story, some children will be asked if the person in the story is sad; others will be asked if she is angry. We want to know if it is easier for children to recognize sadness and anger from people’s facial expressions, or from the events or actions in the stories.
This research will help us understand how children begin to categorize different emotions and the situations that cause them.
Learn about other research related to Children's Understanding of Emotion.
This research is conducted by the Emotion Development Lab at Boston College