As human beings as we age and mature so do our emotions and expressions, how a baby reacts to a range of emotions compared to a 20 year old will be completely different. The Oxford dictionary of psychology defines emotions as; “Any short term evaluative, affective, intentional, psychological state, including happiness, sadness, disgust, and other inner feelings. (Colman, 2009, p. 501) Emotional development does not occur in isolation but in some rare circumstances it does, there are many cognitive, neurological and behavioural influences interact with emotional, social and cultural influences. (“Emotional development”, 2006,. para 2 ).
The first stage of development is from birth to two years. This stage is critical, as the myelin covers are not been fully developed at birth and it is these covers that are responsible for keeping the brain insulated. Myelination occurs when the cell is insulated, this is essential for infants to develop all cells by six months of age. Before six months the main reason why a child’s emotion and emotional expression is different is due to the brain not being fully mylinated. As the child ages past the first month, their frontal cortex begins to advance as increasing neurological development is starting and beginning to modify and transform the operations of the in-built emotional expressions (Wilson, 2003, p.55).
Suffering, pain, joy, fear and interest are among the first emotions that an infant express. These primary emotions are important as this is a child’s first way of showing and communicating with adults their needs. It is for the reason of communication we must look at our primary emotions as a human survival mechanism, as these are involuntary and in- built features all children are born with (Wilson, 2003, p.55).
All primary emotions are all expressed in the same manner, which raises the question as to whether emotions are all universal; that emotions are genetic, or that all cultures share mutual background features. There are 2 main theories on emotional development; discrete emotions theory and a structural approach (Wilson, 2003, p.48).
Izard, Tomkins, Ekman are the leaders of discrete emotions theory. These theorists proclaimed that emotion had 3 components; physiological, behavioural and subjective. These emotions where present from birth and could be seen by studying facial expressions of infants. The results and information these theorists where gaining agreed with Darwin that these expressions where the same in all culture and must be an in-built neural feature. As humans age our primary emotions network with cognition and form ‘cognitive affected structures’, this is how secondary emotions are developed discrete emotions theory (Wilson, 2003, p.49). This theory can be applied to my own family, as recently there was a sudden death of my aunt, as a result we had family members calling from different parts of Australia and the world calling to offer their condolences and support to our family. This reaction to a death of a family member is universal.
The structural development approach see’s development as holistic. This approach states that all systems interact with each other and the environment with emphasis on the social environment. The environment play a large factor in the development of children, but theorists cannot deny genetic is also a large contributor. Sroufe a theorist states that all emotions have antecedent. In Sroufe’s theory in the first 6 months of an infant’s life emotional ancestor can also be physiological states and not recognised as emotions, and that secondary emotions build from there (Wilson, 2003, p.50).
By the age of two, a toddler’s brain contains more neurons than an adult and has twice the amount of connections between these cells. It has been linked that that as a...