Do young children misunderstand their own emotions?



Publication Details

Bender, P. K., Pons, F., Harris, P. L. & de Rosnay, M. (2011). Do young children misunderstand their own emotions?. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8 (3), 331-348.


This study investigated children's ability to understand false beliefs and the emotions caused by false beliefs with a special focus on children's understanding of their own belief-based emotions. Forty-five children (25 boys and 20 girls) between the ages of 5 and 7 years were tested for their understanding of: (1) false belief of self and other; and (2) belief-based emotion of self and other. Testing procedures included a variation of the classic "Smarties" task (Hogrefe, Wimmer, & Perner, 1986). Children displayed a lag in their understanding of belief-based emotions as compared to false beliefs, even when they were asked to identify their own emotions. The findings are discussed in light of theories about how we gain knowledge of our own emotions.

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