Children's understanding of mixed emotions in self and other: Verbal reports and visual representations

Esther Burkitt*, Ruth Lowry, Francesca Fotheringham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Patterns of simultaneous experiences of mixed emotion have been found in adulthood using analogue emotion scales (AES) that measure subjective intensity and duration of two emotions in one graph. Children report simultaneous emotions increasingly between 5 and 7 years of age. These reports may underestimate the type of simultaneous experiences. This research piloted an extended interview and AES to assess subjective mixed emotion types in childhood. One hundred and eighty children (91 girls, 89 boys) between 5 years 2 months and 7 years 3 months (M = 6 years 3 months) were allocated to two conditions (self: n = 90, other: n = 90), hearing a vignette describing a mixed emotion event occurring either to another child or to themselves. Log-linear analysis of reported and graphed responses showed simple, sequential, prevalence, inverse, and highly simultaneous emotion experiences. Younger children reported more single and sequential experiences. Older children reported and graphed more simultaneous experiences. Mixed emotion varied by measure type with more prevalence experiences graphed than reported and more inverse experiences reported than graphed. The results indicate the potential for the utility of the adapted AES for use with children.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2076
JournalInfant and Child Development
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


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