Happy, sad, or yucky? Parental emotion talk with infants in a book-sharing task.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

While preschoolers consistently produce and use labels for happy and sad emotional states, labels for other emotional states (e.g., disgust) emerge much later in development. One explanation for these differences may lie in how parents first talk about these emotions with their children in infancy and toddlerhood. The current study examined parent talk about different emotions (i.e., happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust) in a book-sharing task with their 12- to 24-month-old infants. Parental talk on each emotion page was coded for both quantity and quality of emotion talk. We found that, rather than labeling or asking questions about disgust emotional states, parents instead elaborated on and asked questions about the context of disgust pictures. In contrast, parents frequently labeled happy and sad emotional states and behaviors. Parental use of causal questions related to infants' productive emotion vocabularies. These different narrative styles may partly explain why older children acquire emotion labels for "happy" and "sad" much earlier than "disgust."

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ruba, AL; Kalia, V; Wilbourn, MP

Published Date

  • March 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 277 - 290

PubMed ID

  • 34862845

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8857069

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-7078

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1525-0008

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/infa.12448


  • eng