Emotional Expression in Infancy: I. Initial Studies of Social Signaling and an Emergent Model

  • Robert N. Emde
  • David H. Kligman
  • James H. Reich
  • Ted D. Wade
Part of the Genesis of Behavior book series (GOBE, volume 1)


This story, one of description, began as a bothersome byroad in a research odyssey concerned with understanding emotional development, but it has now become an absorbing adventure in its own right. Our program started in what seemed like a direct and simple fashion, first with studies of babies who smiled and then with babies who cried. We studied these behaviors in multiple contexts, physiological, social, and developmental (Emde & Harmon, 1972; Emde, Gaensbauer, & Harmon, 1976), but then, as psychiatrists, we encountered a concern. In the course of our longitudinal studies, we became increasingly bothered by a nagging question: How did we know that what we were calling emotional in babies was related to the later emotional experience that older patients talk about and that we find so central in our clinical work? Obviously, the preverbal infant could not tell us how he felt. In using a variety of viewpoints to bear on this problem, we soon learned that defining or “indexing” emotions by physiological or situational correlates alone was unreliable and made little sense. But as we continued our longitudinal studies, both in the home and in the laboratory, we reassured ourselves with one view, firmly rooted in the naturalistic setting. When we concentrated on viewing emotions as expressions, as nonverbal communications, we were reassured because we found that facial expressions and other behaviors that we presumed to call emotional regularly communicated (1) feelings and (2) messages for caretaking and social interaction, and that both of these were meaningful for parents. Nonetheless, our observations were at the anecdotal-descriptive level, and we realized that more systematic efforts were needed.


Facial Expression Multidimensional Scaling Emotional Expression Emotional ExPRESSION Affect Expression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abelson, R. P., & Sermat, V. Multidimensional scaling of facial expressions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1962, 63, 546–554.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnold, M. B. (Ed.). Feelings and emotions. New York: Academic Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  3. Bayley, N. Bayley Scales of Infant Development. New York: Psychological Corporation, 1969.Google Scholar
  4. Bergstrom, R. M. Electrical parameters of the brain during ontogeny. In R. J. Robinson (Ed.), Brain and early behavior. London: Academic Press, 1969, pp. 15–41.Google Scholar
  5. Brazelton, T. B., Koslowski, B., & Main, M. The origins of reciprocity: Early mother-Infant interaction. In M. Lewis & L. Rosenblum (Eds.), The effect of the infant on its caregiver (Vol. 1). New York: Wiley, 1974, pp. 49–76.Google Scholar
  6. Bridges, K. M. B. Emotional development in early infancy. Child Development, 1933, 3, 324–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bronson, G. W. The fear of novelty. Psychological Bulletin, 1968, 69, 350–358.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campos, J., Emde, R., Gaensbauer, T., & Henderson, C. Cardiac and behavioral interrelationships in the reactions of infants to strangers. Developmental Psychology, 1975, 11(5), 589–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Charlesworth, W., & Kreutzer, M. Facial expressions of infants and children. In P. Ekman (Ed.), Darwin and facial expression: A century of research in review. New York: Academic Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  10. Chevalier-Skolnikoff, S. The ontogeny of communication in Macaca speciosa. Ph. D. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1971.Google Scholar
  11. Darwin, C. The expression of emotions in man and animals. London: John Murray, 1904, (Originally published, 1872).Google Scholar
  12. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. Unmasking the face. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975.Google Scholar
  13. Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., & Ellsworth, P. Emotion in the human face: Guidelines for research and an integration of findings. Elmsford, N.Y.: Pergamon Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  14. Emde, R. N., Gaensbauer, T., & Harmon, R. J. Emotional expression in infancy: A biobehavioral study. Psychological Issues, Monograph Series, Inc. 1976, 10, Monograph #37. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  15. Emde, R. N., & Harmon, R. J. Endogenous and exogenous smiling system in early infancy. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 1972, 11(2), 177–200.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Engen, R., Levy, N., & Schlosberg, H. The dimensional analysis of a new series of facial expressions. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 1958, 55, 454–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Erikson, E. Childhood and society. New York: Norton, 1950.Google Scholar
  18. Fox, M. W. A comparative study of the development of facial expressions in canids: Wolf, coyote and foxes. Behavior, 1970, 36, 49–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freud, S. Instincts and their vicissitudes. Standard Edition: 1915 (Vol. 14). London: Hogarth Press, 1957, pp. 117–140.Google Scholar
  20. Freud, S. Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning. Standard Edition: 1930 (Vol. 12). London: Hogarth Press, 1958, pp. 218–336.Google Scholar
  21. Frijda, N. Emotion and recognition of emotion. In M. B. Arnold (Ed.), Feelings and emotions. New York: Academic Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  22. Frijda, N., & Philipszoon, E. Dimensions of recognition of expression. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1963, 66, 45–51.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gasell, A. L., & Amatruda, C. The embryology of behavior: The beginnings of the human mind. New York: Harper, 1945.Google Scholar
  24. Gladstone, W. H. A multidimensional study of facial expression of emotion. Australian Journal of Psychology, 1962, 14, 19–100.Google Scholar
  25. Hetzer, H., & Wolf, K. Babytests. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 1928, 107, 62–104.Google Scholar
  26. Hiatt, M., Campos, J., & Emde, R. N. Fear, surprise and happiness: The patterning of facial expressions in infants. Presentation to the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans, March 20, 1977.Google Scholar
  27. Hinde, R. A. Biological bases of human social behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974.Google Scholar
  28. Izard, C. The face of emotion. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1971.Google Scholar
  29. Izard, C. Patterns of emotion: A new analysis of anxiety and depression. New York: Academic Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  30. James, W. Principles of psychology. New York: Henry Holt, 1890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kruskal, J. B. Multidimensional scaling by optimizing goodness of fit to a non-metric hypothesis. Psychometrika, 1964, 29, 1–27. (a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kruskal, J. B. Non-metric multidimensional scaling: A numerical method. Psychometrika, 1964, 29, 28–42. (b)Google Scholar
  33. Lindsley, D. Emotion. In S. S. Stevens (Ed.), Handbook of experimental psychology. New York: Wiley, 1951.Google Scholar
  34. Olds, M. E., & Olds, J. Approach-avoidance analysis of rat diencephalon. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 1963, 120, 259–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Osgood, C. Dimensionality of the semantic space for communication via facial expression. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 1966, 7, 1–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Piaget, J. The origins of intelligence in children (2nd ed.). New York: International Universities Press, 1952. (Originally published, 1936.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pribram, K. H. Emotion: Steps toward a neuropsycholgical theory. In D. C. Glass (Ed.), Neurophysiology and emotion. New York: Rockefeller University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, 1967.Google Scholar
  38. Pribram, K. H., & Melges, F. T. Emotion: The search for control. Reprinted from the Handbook of clinical neurology. In P. J. Vinken & G. W. Bruyn (Eds.), Disorders of higher activity. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1969.Google Scholar
  39. Redican, W. K. Facial expressions in non-human primates. In L. Rosenblum (Ed.), Primate behavior (Vol. 4). New York: Academic Press, 1975, pp. 103–194.Google Scholar
  40. Ricciuti, H. N. Social and emotional behavior in infancy: Some developmental issues and problems. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 1968, 14, 82–100.Google Scholar
  41. Ricciuti, H. N., & Poresky, R. H. Emotional behavior and development in the first year of life: An analysis of arousal, approach-withdrawal, and affective responses. In A. D. Pick (Ed.), Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology (Vol. 6). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  42. Riss, W., & Scalia, F. Functional pathways of the central nervous system. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1967.Google Scholar
  43. Shepard, R. The analysis of proximities: Multidimensional scaling with an unknown distance function: I. Psychometrika, 1962, 27, 125–140. (a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shepard, R. The analysis of proximities: Multidimensional scaling with an unknown distance function: II. Psychometrika, 1962, 27, 219–246. (b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shepard, R. Representation of structure in similarity data: Problems and prospects. Psychometrika, 1974, 39(4). 373–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sherman, M. The differentiation of emotional responses in infants: I. Judgments of emotional responses from motion pictures views and from actual observation. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 1927, 7, 265–284. (a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sherman, M. The differentiation of emotional responses in infants: II. The ability of observers to judge the emotional characteristics of the crying of infants and of the voice of an adult. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 1927, 7, 335–351. (b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Spencer, H. The principles of psychology (Vol. 1). New York: Appleton, 1890.Google Scholar
  49. Spitz, R. The first year of life: Normal and deviant object relations. New York: International Universities Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  50. Spitz, R., & Wolf, K. M. Anaclitic depression, an inquiry into the genesis of psychiatric conditions in early childhood: II. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1946, 2, 313–342.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Sroufe, A. Emotional expression in infancy. Unpublished manuscript, 1976.Google Scholar
  52. Stechler, C., & Carpenter, G. Theoretical considerations. Exceptional Infant Normal Infant, 1967, 1, 165–189.Google Scholar
  53. Stern, D. N. Mother and infant at play: The dyadic interaction involving facial, vocal, and gaze behaviors. In M. Lewis & L. Rosenblum (Eds.), The effect of the infant on its caregiver (Vol. 1). New York: Wiley, 1974, pp. 187–213.Google Scholar
  54. Tomkins, S. S. Affect, imagery, consciousness: The negative affects (Vol. 1). New York: Springer, 1962.Google Scholar
  55. Tomkins, S. S. Affect, imagery, consciousness: The negative affects (Vol. 1). New York: Springer, 1963.Google Scholar
  56. Tomkins, S. S., & McCarter, R. What and where are the primary affects? Some evidence for a theory. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1964, 18, 119–158.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Watson, J. B. Behaviorism (1st ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1930.Google Scholar
  58. Werner, H. Comparative psychology of mental development (rev. ed.). New York: International Universities Press, 1957. (Originally published, 1948.)Google Scholar
  59. Woodworth, R. S., & Schlosberg, H. S. Experimental psychology. New York: Holt, 1954.Google Scholar
  60. Wundt, W. Grundriss der Psychologie (C. H. Judd, trans.). (1896) Cited in C. Izard, The face of emotion. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1971.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Emde
    • 1
  • David H. Kligman
    • 1
  • James H. Reich
    • 1
  • Ted D. Wade
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Colorado Medical SchoolDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations