Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Science




Hayden, Elizabeth P.


Investigating normative and maladaptive emotional development requires the ability to elicit children’s reactivity to a range of affective stimuli. However, the field lacks a validated battery of stimuli tapping a broad range of childhood emotions. We therefore sought to validate a developmentally appropriate battery of emotionally evocative film stimuli, covering a range of affective responses, for use with children. During pilot work, clips were verified as age-appropriate by parents of young children. Next, during a laboratory visit, 39 children (22 girls; Mage = 7.19 years, SD = .76) viewed 20 film clips thought likely to elicit either positive affect, dysphoria (i.e., sadness/anger), or fear, and provided self-reported emotional responses to clips. Children’s facial expressions during clips were also rated by trained coders blind to the intended purpose of the clips. We identified clips that successfully elicited the target emotion more so than nontarget emotions according to both coder ratings and child self-report. Associations between reactivity to the clips and child age and sex were limited. Several significant, meaningful associations between reactivity to clips and caregiver-reported child emotion regulation were found. Implications for the use of these film clips in future research on child emotion are discussed.

Summary for Lay Audience

This study identifies several age-appropriate film clips that effectively elicit positive emotion, sadness, or fear in children aged 6 to 8. These film clips may be useful tools for studying children’s emotional experience and regulation.