Young Children's Appraisals of Others' Spontaneous Emotional Reactions

Richard Fabes, Nancy Eisenberg, Mia Nyman, Qhyrrae Michealieu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Preschoolers were interviewed regarding their understanding of others' spontaneous emotional reactions. From 62 preschoolers in 3 age groups (3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds), 601 emotional reactions and 490 appraisals were obtained. The accuracy of children's appraisals (e.g., correspondence with adults' appraisals) varied with age and the type and intensity of emotion. Although children were most accurate in identifying others' positive emotions, they were least accurate in identifying their causes. Moreover, although children's appraisals tended to be biased toward external events, recognition of internal factors was found to vary with age, emotion, and type of internal factor. It was suggested that young children's use of naturally occurring information regarding others' emotions depends on the emotion and the relative salience of the cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-866
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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