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"Longitudinal change and longitudinal stability of individual differences in children's emotion understanding"

Cognition & Emotion

Issue:
"Volume 19, Number 8 / December 2005

Pages:
1158 - 1174

URL:
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Longitudinal change and longitudinal stability of individual differences in children's emotion understanding


Francisco Pons and Paul L. Harris

A1 University of Aalborg, Denmark
A2 Harvard University, USA

Abstract:

Individual differences in children's emotion understanding have been intensively investigated during the past decade. Theses studies suggest that individual differences emerge quite early, are present among both preschool and school�aged children, are not restricted to the understanding of some specific components of emotions, correlate with other characteristics of the individual and his or her social network, and may persist even after an intervention programme. However, because few of these studies had a longitudinal design we know little about change and stability in these individual differences especially among school�aged children when several components of emotion understanding, both simple and complex, are assessed. Therefore, the two aims of the present study were to examine both change and stability in individual differences among school�aged children in their understanding of several components of emotion. For this purpose, 42 children aged 7, 9, and 11 years at Time I were retested 13 months later at Time II on several components of emotion understanding, both simple and complex, with the Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC). The results show that: (1) The two younger age groups clearly improved their overall level of emotion understanding; (2) this improvement was not equally distributed across the different components of emotion understanding; (3) individual differences in the overall level of emotion understanding were very stable, with overall level at Time I being a good predictor of overall level at Time 2; and (4) this stability was observable for both simple and complex components of emotion understanding. "