ERIC Number: ED240446
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Nonverbal Affective Communication in Children: Theoretical and Clinical Relevance.
Cunningham, Joseph G.
Young children's nonverbal affective expression and communication reveals an emotional complexity and sensitivity which exceeds their verbal abilities. To investigate the development of nonverbal emotional communication in young children, two studies were undertaken. In the first study, equal numbers of 5- and 11-year-old children from two schools were videotaped using facial expressions to show affective states (happy, sad, angry). The children subsequently interpreted the expressions of unfamiliar children from the other school. An analysis of the results showed that young children were able to communicate affect through facial expressions and that the interpretative ability of 5-year-old children was on a par with 11-year-old children for the happy and angry expressions of peers. In the second study, 112 children, equally divided among 4-, 5-, 6-, and 19-year-olds, interpreted verbal/vocal and musical representations of affect (happy, sad, angry, afraid). An analysis of the results showed considerable consistency in the understanding of affective meaning in music for 4- to 6-year-old children and adults. Performance with sad and angry pieces improved from 4 to 5 years, declined between 5 and 6 years, then increased significantly between the 6 year and adult levels. The 4-year-old children were able to identify the fearful selections better than the 5- and 6-year-old children. The results of these studies led to the examination of multidimensional aspects of nonverbal affective communication between parents and children in a naturalistic setting, through the analysis of videotaped morning goodbyes of parent-child dyads at a daycare center. Preliminary results showed that, contrary to reported differences in verbal parent-child interactions by socioeconomic status, no such differences have been found in nonverbal affective exchanges. (Implications for cognitive-developmental models and clinical research and practice are discussed.) (BL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Researchers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Facial Expressions
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (91st, Anaheim, CA, August 26-30, 1983).