Luigi Anolli, Maria Rita Ciceri, Erica Cufersin, Monica Durante

Decoding and labeling of emotional expressions by pre-schoolers

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Recognition and labelling of emotional expressions play an important role in the development of emotional competence. The aim of the present study is to investigate the accuracy of emotional recognition and the emotional semantic development. Ninety-nine preschoolaged children were asked to understand and labeling emotional expressions of both basic (joy, sadness, anger and fear) and complex emotions (contempt and tenderness) on the basis of three different stimula: contextual cues (script), body expressions and facial expressions. Children's responses were coded according to three levels of semantic accuracy: focal, generalized and metonimic recognition. Data from the present study point out a monotonic improvement of emotional semantics as a function of the subject's age and of the type of stimulus (scripts were judged correctly more often than body and facial expressions). In the same way, expressions of joy, anger and sadness are more accurately recognized than other emotions. Labeling errors have examined as well. The results are discussed with reference to the embodied perspective of emotions.

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