Critical Review of Brechet et al. (2009). How does Sam feel?: Children’s labelling and drawing of basic emotions Word Count: 1537
Children's understanding of emotions contributes to their cognitive development and interpersonal relationship. The development of ability to identify basic emotions by children has been tested by different tasks. According to type of task the recognition of emotion was tested using facial expressions, scenarios describing the situations or drawing a person or face expressing basic emotions (Camras & Allison, 1985; Widen & Rusell, 2003; Picard et al., 2007). The children comprehension of emotions was tested on children as young as 2 years old (Widen & Rusell, 2003) and in addition to basic emotions the pride emotion was recognized by the age of 4 years (Tracy et al., 2005) and like other basic emotions it improves by age. Harrigan (1984) found that when emotion recognition task preceded emotion labelling task the scores were higher in the labelling task. This was the reason why Picard et al. (2007) used between subject design in his study where he examined children’s and adult’s drawings which indicated that children tend to use more facial expression than posture or context cues to depict emotion. Reichenbach and Masters (1983) revealed that using two emotion stimuli at the same time does not increase the number of correct answers but this could be because prior to the experiment the meaning of possible emotions (e.g. happy, sad, mad or OK) that the children’s faces on pictures could present was explained. Camras and Allison (1985) study contradicted Reichenbach and Masters (1983) findings where the possible answers of three emotion labels or facial expressions were given to children immediately after emotional scenarios and leaded to high performance; however the labels had better recognition than facial expressions. In Camras and Allison (1985) study participants also underwent the switching task where mental flexibility is required but this did not influence the results as Dibbets and Jolles (2006) findings revealed that mental flexibility is present in children younger than 6 years old and they are able to manipulate two different tasks in working memory. One concern is that children’s understanding of basic emotions remains vulnerable to the influence of combinations of stimuli types because one of the stimuli form associated with identification of emotion can influence children’s imaginary or roleplaying more than the other. Often these combinations involve comparison of tasks to find out if one of the stimuli is as suitable as the other. But does it work?
Brechet et al. (2009) compared children’s ability to identify basic emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust) from emotional scenarios and human drawings. Their study is first that undertook such a comparison. Neutral scenario was also used for drawings but not for labelling and it was analysed separately. Scenarios in their study were more detailed and had better evocative power than the one used in previous studies. They asked 144 children age 6 to 11 and 24 adults to label the emotion to particular scenario and immediately after to draw Sam’s emotion according to scenario label. If the label produced was incorrect participants would receive feedback indicating expected label. All participants’ answers were judged by criteria of three female judges in both tasks. The main aim of their study was to test to what extent is drawing suitable to assess children’s ability understanding of basic emotions. The predictions were that both tasks should observe the gradual increase in ability to identify basic emotions and the close relationship between the pattern of success or failure across the age 6 and 11. Experimenters used within-subject design and the results revealed that there is a similar increase in ability to identify correct emotions in labelling task and drawing task between...
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