How do early family systems predict emotion recognition in middle childhood?

Petra Laamanen, Noona Kiuru, Marjo Flykt, Mervi Vänskä, Jari K. Hietanen, Mikko J. Peltola, Enni Kurkela, Piia Poikkeus, Aila Tiitinen, Jallu Lindblom

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Abstract

Facial emotion recognition (FER) is a fundamental element in human interaction. It begins to develop soon after birth and is important in achieving developmental tasks of middle childhood, such as developing mutual friendships and acquiring social rules of peer groups. Despite its importance, FER research during middle childhood continues to be rather limited. Moreover, research is ambiguous on how the quality of one's early social-emotional environment shapes FER development, and longitudinal studies spanning from infancy to later development are scarce. In this study, we examine how the cohesive, authoritarian, disengaged and enmeshed family system types, assessed during pregnancy and infancy, predict children's FER accuracy and interpretative biases towards happiness, fear, anger and sadness at the age of 10 years (N = 79). The results demonstrated that children from disengaged families (i.e., highly distressed relationships) show superior FER accuracy to those from cohesive families (i.e., harmonious and stable relationships). Regarding interpretative biases, children from cohesive families showed a greater fear bias compared to children from disengaged families. Our findings suggest that even in a relatively low-risk population, variation in the quality of children's early family relationships may shape children's subsequent FER development, perhaps as an evolution-based adaptation to their social-emotional environment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jul 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • early social-emotional environment
  • emotion recognition
  • family system
  • middle childhood
  • person-oriented

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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