Grossmann proposes the “fearful ape hypothesis,” suggesting that heightened fearfulness in early life is evolutionarily adaptive. We question this claim with evidence that (1) perceived fearfulness in children is associated with negative, not positive long-term outcomes; (2) caregivers are responsive to all affective behaviors, not just those perceived as fearful; and (3) caregiver responsiveness serves to reduce perceived fearfulness.
ABSTRACTResearchers have been interested in the perception of human emotional expressions for decades. Importantly, most empirical work in this domain has relied on controlled stimulus sets of adults posing for various emotional expressions. Recently, the Child Affective Facial Expression set was introduced to the scientific community, featuring a large validated set of photographs of preschool aged children posing for seven different emotional expressions. Although the CAFE set was extensively validated using adult participants, the set was designed for use with children. (...) It is therefore necessary to verify that adult validation applies to child performance. In the current study, we examined 3- to 4-year-olds’ identification of a subset of children’s faces in the CAFE set, and compared it to adult ratings cited in previous research. Our results demonstrate an exceptionally strong relationship between adult ratings of the CAFE photos and children’s ratings, suggesting that the adult validation of t... (shrink)
One facet of Vigil's socio-relational framework of expressive behaviors (SRFB) suggests that females are more sensitive to facial expressions than are males, and should detect facial expressions more quickly. A re-examination of recent research with children demonstrates that girls do detect various facial expressions more quickly than do boys. Although this provides support for SRFB, further examination of SRFB in children would lend important support this evolutionary-based theory.
Emotion recognition plays an important role in children’s socio-emotional development. Research on children’s emotion recognition has heavily relied on stimulus sets of photos of adults posed stereotyped facial configurations. The Child Affective Facial Expression set is a relatively new stimulus set that provides researchers with photographs of a diverse group of children’s facial configurations in seven emotional categories—angry, sad, happy, fearful, disgusted, surprised, and neutral. However, the large size of the full CAFE set makes it less ideal for research in (...) children. Here, we introduce two subsets of CAFE with 140 photographs of children’s facial configurations in each set, diverse in the race and ethnicity of the models, and designed to produce variability in naïve observers. The subsets have been validated with 1000 adult participants. (shrink)
Countless studies have reported that individuals detect threatening/angry faces faster than happy/neutral faces. Two classic views have been used to explain this phenomenon—that negative valence drives the effect, or conversely, that low-level perceptual characteristics of the stimuli are responsible for their rapid detection. In the current review, I question whether dichotomous perspectives are the most parsimonious way to explain a large and inconsistent literature. Further, I argue that nondichotomous, multicomponent accounts for the detection of emotionally valenced stimuli might help take (...) us beyond traditional approaches to visual detection research, and I suggest various ways in which future research can use these newer approaches to more effectively elucidate the mechanisms underlying the rapid detection of emotionally valenced stimuli. (shrink)
Although there is a large and growing literature on children’s developing concepts of illness transmission, little is known about how children develop contagion knowledge before formal schooling begins, and how these informal learning experiences can impact children’s health behaviors. Here we asked two important questions: First, do children’s informal learning experiences, such as their experiences reading storybooks, regularly contain causal information about illness transmission; and second, what is the impact of this type of experience on children’s developing knowledge and behavior? (...) In Study 1, we examined whether children’s commercial books about illness regularly contain contagion-relevant causal information. In Study 2, we ran a pilot study examining whether providing children with causal information about illness transmission in a storybook can influence their knowledge and subsequent behavior when presented with a contaminated object. The results from Study 1 suggest that very few (15%) children’s books about illness feature biological causal mechanisms for illness transmission. However, results from Studies 2 suggest that storybooks containing contagion-relevant explanations about illness transmission may encourage learning and avoidance of contaminated objects. Altogether, these results provide preliminary data suggesting that future research should focus on engaging children in learning about contagion and encouraging adaptive health behaviors. (shrink)