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Preschoolers' real-time coordination of vocal and facial emotional information

Preschoolers' real-time coordination of vocal and facial emotional information

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 142: 391-399

An eye-tracking methodology was used to examine the time course of 3- and 5-year-olds' ability to link speech bearing different acoustic cues to emotion (i.e., happy-sounding, neutral, and sad-sounding intonation) to photographs of faces reflecting different emotional expressions. Analyses of saccadic eye movement patterns indicated that, for both 3- and 5-year-olds, sad-sounding speech triggered gaze shifts to a matching (sad-looking) face from the earliest moments of speech processing. However, it was not until approximately 800ms into a happy-sounding utterance that preschoolers began to use the emotional cues from speech to identify a matching (happy-looking) face. Complementary analyses based on conscious/controlled behaviors (children's explicit points toward the faces) indicated that 5-year-olds, but not 3-year-olds, could successfully match happy-sounding and sad-sounding vocal affect to a corresponding emotional face. Together, the findings clarify developmental patterns in preschoolers' implicit versus explicit ability to coordinate emotional cues across modalities and highlight preschoolers' greater sensitivity to sad-sounding speech as the auditory signal unfolds in time.

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Accession: 058609934

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26483162

DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.09.014

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