This study examined the effect of emotional and verbal congruency on children’s judgements of emotion. Children listened to happy and sad verbal phrases with congruent or incongruent prosody, or congruent or incongruent background music, then rated the emotion expressed in the recordings on a five-point happy face scale. Results revealed that for happy literal phrases, congruent phrases were rated significantly higher than incongruent phrases, F (1, 12) = 35.15, p < 0.001, partial n2 = 0.75. For sad literal phrases, congruent phrases were rated significantly lower than incongruent phrases, F (1, 12) = 6.23, p < 0.03, partial n2 = 0.34. The effect of congruency on ratings of both phrase types demonstrates that children as young as 3-years-old are able to use external cues and to infer underlying emotions based on literal meanings to make judgements about emotion. The differential uses of the various cues to emotion by children is likely due to their experience with different emotions, and the salience of cues within happy and sad intonation and music.
Jennings, A. (2017). The Recognition of Vocal Expression of Emotion in Children. Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal, 5 (1). Retrieved from https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/wupj/vol5/iss1/3