"We found a pretty interesting developmental trajectory when it comes to emotion differentiation," says psychological scientist Erik Nook of Harvard University, first author on the study. "Children tend to report feeling only one emotion at a time, producing differentiated but sparse emotional experiences. Adolescents begin to co-experience emotions but they are not well differentiated, and adults both co-experience and differentiate emotions."
"These findings suggest that the influx of co-experienced emotions in adolescence makes this a period of more murkiness in what emotions one is feeling," Nook explains.
Study - Participants - Age - Set - Tasks
In the study, 143 participants, ranging in age from 5 to 25, completed a set of emotion-related tasks. To assess understanding of different emotion words, the researchers asked participants to define 27 different emotion terms. The researchers used five of these emotion terms -- angry, disgusted, sad, scared, and upset -- in a subsequent emotion differentiation task. In this task, participants viewed a series of 20 images showing a negative scene of some kind. Participants indicated how much they felt each of the five negative emotions when looking at an image by sliding a bar on a scale to the appropriate number (from 0 = not at all to 100 = very).
The results revealed a U-shaped pattern in participants' experiences of negative emotions, with differentiation between emotions decreasing from childhood to adolescence and increasing again from adolescence to early adulthood.
Children - Emotion - Differentiation - Ratings - Participants
Although children showed high emotion differentiation, their ratings differed from participants of other ages in that the emotions they reported did not overlap -- they showed a stronger tendency to...
Wake Up To Breaking News!
Have you forgotten?