Toddlers' understanding of peers' emotions.
The second year of life sees dramatic developments in infants' ability to understand emotions in adults alongside their growing interest in peers. In this study, the authors used a social-referencing paradigm to examine whether 12-, 18-, and 24-month-old children could use a peer's positive or negative emotion messages about toys to regulate their own behavior with the toys. They found that 12-month-olds decreased their play with toys toward which a peer had expressed either positive or negative emotion compared with play following a peer's neutral attention toward a toy. Also, 18-month-olds did not respond systematically, but 24-month-old children increased their toy play after watching a peer display negative affect toward the toy. Regardless of their age, children with siblings decreased their play with toys toward which they had seen a peer display fear, the typical social-referencing response. The authors discuss results in the context of developmental changes in social understanding and peer interaction over the second year of life.
Nichols, SR; Svetlova, M; Brownell, CA
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