Let’s talk about emotions: The development of children’s emotion vocabulary from 4 to 11 years of age

Published on Feb 24, 2021
· DOI :10.1007/S42761-021-00040-2
Gerlind Grosse1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Potsdam),
Berit Streubel2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Leipzig University)
+ 1 AuthorsHenrik Saalbach11
Estimated H-index: 11
(Leipzig University)
Learning to use language in an adult-like way is a long-lasting process. This may particularly apply to complex conceptual domains such as emotions. The present study examined children’s and adults’ patterns of emotion word usage regarding their convergence and underlying semantic dimensions, and the factors influencing the ease of emotion word learning. We assessed the production of emotion words by 4- to 11-year-old children (N = 123) and 27 adults (M = 37 years) using a vignette test. We found that the older the children, the more emotion words they produced. Moreover, with increasing age, children’s pattern of emotion word usage converged with adult usage. The analysis for semantic dimensions revealed one clear criterion—the differentiation of positive versus negative emotions—for all children and adults. We further found that broad covering emotion words are produced earlier and in a more adult-like way.
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
51 Citations
4 Citations
1 Citations
#1Erik C. Nook (Harvard University)H-Index: 8
#2Caitlin StavishH-Index: 2
Last. Leah H. Somerville (Harvard University)H-Index: 41
view all 7 authors...
: This study examined two facets of emotion development: emotion word comprehension (knowing the meaning of emotion words such as "anger" or "excitement") and emotion concept abstraction (representing emotions in terms of internal psychological states that generalize across situations). Using a novel emotion vocabulary assessment, we captured how a cross-sectional sample of participants aged 4-25 (N = 196) defined 24 emotions. Smoothing spline regression models suggested that emotion comprehensi...
17 CitationsSource
#1Berit Streubel (Leipzig University)H-Index: 2
#2Catherine Gunzenhauser (Leipzig University)H-Index: 10
Last. Henrik Saalbach (Leipzig University)H-Index: 11
view all 4 authors...
Abstract Positive associations between children’s general language skills and emotion understanding are well documented. Concurrently, research from other domains highlights the importance of domain-specific language skills for conceptual development. The current study examined the relative contributions of emotion-specific and general vocabulary to individual differences in multiple early-acquired components of emotion understanding (e.g., facial emotion recognition) and later-acquired componen...
4 CitationsSource
#1Noburo Saji (Kamakura Women's University)H-Index: 6
#2Mutsumi Imai (Keio: Keio University)H-Index: 26
Last. Michiko Asano (Rikkyo University)H-Index: 12
view all 3 authors...
This research investigated how children build up the language-specific system of the color lexicon, examining factors that play important roles for the construction of an adult-like color lexicon. We had 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old Japanese-speaking children and adults (n = 20, 18, 19, and 19, respectively) produce names for 93 color swatches. The results showed that children of all ages were able to apply most of the chromatic words to the colors close to the center of each category, but even 5-year...
4 CitationsSource
#1Alessandro Sanchez (Stanford University)H-Index: 2
#2Stephan C. Meylan (MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)H-Index: 5
Last. Michael C. Frank (Stanford University)H-Index: 44
view all 6 authors...
The Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) has played a critical role in research on child language development, particularly in characterizing the early language learning environment. Access to these data can be both complex for novices and difficult to automate for advanced users, however. To address these issues, we introduce childes-db, a database-formatted mirror of CHILDES that improves data accessibility and usability by offering novel interfaces, including browsable web applicatio...
14 CitationsSource
#1Erik C. Nook (Harvard University)H-Index: 8
#2Stephanie F. Sasse (Harvard University)H-Index: 5
Last. Leah H. Somerville (Harvard University)H-Index: 41
view all 5 authors...
How do people represent their own and others’ emotional experiences? Contemporary emotion theories and growing evidence suggest that the conceptual representation of emotion plays a central role in how people understand the emotions both they and other people feel 1–6 . Although decades of research indicate that adults typically represent emotion concepts as multidimensional, with valence (positive–negative) and arousal (activating–deactivating) as two primary dimensions 7–10 , little is known a...
34 CitationsSource
#1Yanwei Li (SEU: Southeast University)H-Index: 1
#2Dongchuan Yu (SEU: Southeast University)H-Index: 4
Children’s emotion word comprehension (EWC) has constantly received a great deal of attention in developmental science. However, since previous reports focused on only English emotion vocabulary, researchers thus far remained unclear as to the developmental trajectories of EWC (to Chinese emotion words) in Chinese children, let alone the cross-cultural difference of EWC in different languages (i.e., English V.S. Chinese). Furthermore, the influence of valence on EWC, as well as the interaction m...
14 CitationsSource
#1Kristen A. Lindquist (UNC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)H-Index: 29
#2Jennifer K. MacCormack (UNC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)H-Index: 4
Last. Holly Shablack (UNC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)H-Index: 8
view all 3 authors...
Common sense suggests that emotions are physical types that have little to do with the words we use to label them. Yet recent psychological constructionist accounts reveal that language is a fundamental element in emotion that is constitutive of both emotion experiences and perceptions. According to the psychological constructionist Conceptual Act Theory (CAT), an instance of emotion occurs when information from one’s body or other people’s bodies is made meaningful in light of the present situa...
93 CitationsSource
#1Amy E. Skerry (Harvard University)H-Index: 8
#2Elizabeth S. Spelke (Harvard University)H-Index: 109
Identifying the goal of another agent’s action allows an observer to make inferences not only about the outcomes the agent will pursue in the future and the means to be deployed in a given context, but also about the emotional consequences of goal-related outcomes. While numerous studies have characterized the former abilities in infancy, expectations about emotions have gone relatively unexplored. Using a violation of expectation paradigm, we present infants with an agent who attains or fails t...
61 CitationsSource
#1Manfred HolodynskiH-Index: 14
#2Sophia HermannH-Index: 1
Last. Helena KrommH-Index: 2
view all 3 authors...
Der Beitrag betrachtet das Wechselspiel zwischen Emotion und Emotionsregulation aus einer entwicklungspsychologischen Perspektive und bettet es in ein System an psychischen Regulationsformen ein. Dabei wird in kritischer Diskussion bestehender Konzeptionen zur Emotionsregulation eine emotionale und eine volitionale Form der Regulation von Handlungen einer reflexiven Form der Emotionsregulation gegenubergestellt. Letztere beinhaltet eine volitionale Regulation eigener Emotionen und ist erstmals i...
13 CitationsSource
#1Veronica Ornaghi (University of Milano-Bicocca)H-Index: 12
#2Ilaria Grazzani (University of Milano-Bicocca)H-Index: 12
We carried out an investigation with primary-school children on the relationship between both use and comprehension of emotional-state language and emotion understanding. Participants were 100 students between 7 and 10 years old (mean age=8 years and 10 months; SD=15.3 months), equally divided by gender. They completed four tests evaluating their language ability, use of emotional-state language, comprehension of emotional-state language and emotion understanding (EU) respectively. Significant c...
34 CitationsSource
Cited By1
#1Kristen A. Lindquist (UNC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)H-Index: 29
What is the relationship between language and emotion? The work that fills the pages of this special issue draws from interdisciplinary domains to weigh in on the relationship between language and emotion in semantics, cross-linguistic experience, development, emotion perception, emotion experience and regulation, and neural representation. These important new findings chart an exciting path forward for future basic and translational work in affective science.