Friday, August 6, 2010

[Journal Article] The “disgust face” conveys anger to children.

Boy and Pre-Teen Girl Holding Mistletoe
The “disgust face” conveys anger to children.
Widen, Sherri C.; Russell, James A.
Emotion, Vol 10(4), Aug 2010, 455-466. doi: 10.1037/a0019151

Abstract: What does the “facial expression of disgust” communicate to children? When asked to label the emotion conveyed by different facial expressions widely used in research, children (N = 84, 4 to 9 years) were much more likely to label the “disgust face” as anger than as disgust, indeed just as likely as they were to label the “angry face” as anger. Shown someone with a disgust face and asked to generate a possible cause and consequence of that emotion, children provided answers indistinguishable from what they provided for an angry face—even for the minority who had labeled the disgust face as disgust. A majority of adults (N = 22) labeled the same disgust faces shown to the children as disgust and generated causes and consequences that implied disgust. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

I do notice that children are more likely to show disgust than anger. I am wondering if they are in fact (at times) showing anger. Have you every tried to describe what contempt is to a child? Perhaps disgust is one of those emotions like contempt where it becomes clearer- from a self awareness viewpoint- to the self with age. I have always said children are some of the best subjects to study facial expressions because they do not have the same emotional 'masking' abilities as adults. Also, as we know from research, around eight years of age children really become accomplished liars; and their personality as liars (that will be with them for life) is clearly being developed.