2022-08-05Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/27089
Mothers need more information to recognise associated emotions inchild facial expressions
Parenting requires mothers to read social cues and understand their children. It is particularly important that they recognise their child’s emotions to react appropriately, for example, with compassion to sadness or compersion to happiness. Despite this importance, it is unclear how motherhood affects women’s ability to recognise emotions associated with facial expressions in children. Using videos of an emotionally neutral face continually and gradually taking on a facial expression associated with an emotion, we quantified the amount of information needed to match the emotion with the facial expression. Mothers needed more information than non-mothers to match the emotions with the facial expressions. Both mothers and non-mothers performed equally on a control task identifying animals instead of emotions, and both groups needed less information when recognising the emotions associated with facial expressions in adolescents than pre-schoolers. These results indicate that mothers need more information for to correctly recognise typically associated emotions in child facial expressions but not for similar tasks not involving emotions. A possible explanation is that child facial expressions associated with emotions may have a greater emotional impact on mothers than non-mothers leading to task interference but possibly also to increased compassion and compersion.
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This article was supported by the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.