April 5th, 2007
“A feeling or affect that involves a mixture of
physiological arousal (e.g. rapid heart
beat) and overt behaviour (e.g. smile)”
Emotions play important roles in organising
developments such as relationships with
caregivers, exploration of the
environment, and discovery of the self.
Function of Emotions
• Adaptation & survival
• “Emotions that can be directly inferred
from facial expressions”.
• Signs of almost all basic emotions are
present in infancy.
• Most research has focused on 3 basic
emotions: happiness, anger and fear.
• Reflexive smile appears during first month
after birth. Usually appears during
irregular patterns of sleep, not when infant
is in an alert state.
• Social smile appears c.a 2-3 months,
usually in response to external stimuli
(e.g. human face)
• 3-4 months: first laughs!
Anger & Fear
• Generalised distress response present at
birth (e.g. to hunger, pain, boredom)
• Gradual increase in frequency and
intensity from 6 months
• Role of cognitive development
• Cultural factors can modify these effects.
E.g. Child rearing practices among the
Efe (Tronick, Morelli, & Ivey, 1992)
• Infants’ emotional expressions tied to
ability to interpret emotional cues of other.
• 7-10 months: can match the emotion in a
voice with the appropriate face of a
• 8-10 months: social referencing, where
baby actively seeks info about a trusted
person's feelings in an uncertain situation
• A caregiver's facial and emotional signals
influence whether a 1-year-old will be
wary of strangers, play with an unfamiliar
toy, or cross to the deep side of the visual
cliff (e.g. Sorce et al, 1985).
• Enables toddlers to learn about the world
through indirect experience.
• Enables them to appreciate others’
• Involve injury to or enhancement of our
sense of self (e.g. guilt, pr