A facial expression of pax: assessing children's "recognition" of emotion from faces

Nelson, Nicole L. and Russell, James A. (2016) A facial expression of pax: assessing children's "recognition" of emotion from faces. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 141 49-64. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2015.07.016

Author Nelson, Nicole L.
Russell, James A.
Title A facial expression of pax: assessing children's "recognition" of emotion from faces
Journal name Journal of Experimental Child Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0965
Publication date 2016-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.07.016
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 141
Start page 49
End page 64
Total pages 16
Place of publication Maryland Heights, MO, United States
Publisher Academic Press
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In a classic study, children were shown an array of facial expressions and asked to choose the person who expressed a specific emotion. Children were later asked to name the emotion in the face with any label they wanted. Subsequent research often relied on the same two tasks—choice from array and free labeling—to support the conclusion that children recognize basic emotions from facial expressions. Here five studies (N = 120, 2- to 10-year-olds) showed that these two tasks produce illusory recognition; a novel nonsense facial expression was included in the array. Children “recognized” a nonsense emotion (pax or tolen) and two familiar emotions (fear and jealousy) from the same nonsense face. Children likely used a process of elimination; they paired the unknown facial expression with a label given in the choice-from-array task and, after just two trials, freely labeled the new facial expression with the new label. These data indicate that past studies using this method may have overestimated children’s expression knowledge.
Keyword Children
Facial expressions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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