Children's standards for judging their own facial expressions of emotion

Stephanie Shields, Jill A. Padawer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study examined three- to seven-year-old children's abilities to recognize and label their own facial expressions of emotion. Each child posed four facial expressions (Happy, Sad, Angry, and Scared) which were photographed with a Polaroid camera. The child then selected each expression from the array of his/her own photos and labeled the facial expression of each photo. In addition to children's self-evaluations, the photo set's expressive content was evaluated by a panel of adult raters. Happy was the expression easiest for children to pose; Scared was the most difficult. Abilities involved in evaluating one's own facial expression (i.e., recognizing and labeling) appear not to be acquired simultaneously with the ability to pose the expression. Not all children conformed to adult standards in evaluating their own expressions. Nearly one-fifth of the children studied exhibited evidence of an idiosyncratic expressive scheme for at least one of their facial expressions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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