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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)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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.

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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

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