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Emotion matching and emotion regulation in infancy

Fowler, Nia 2011. Emotion matching and emotion regulation in infancy. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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As part of the longitudinal study First Steps, this thesis attempts to elaborate on our understanding of the development of emotion matching and emotion regulation in infancy. Emotion matching can be defined as the ability to accurately copy the same facial configuration of another with, or without, experiencing the associated internal emotional state. Using a peek-a-boo emotion elicitation paradigm, this thesis explores the age at which infants first match emotional expressions, and whether this ability is affected by valence of matched expressions, or infant age. Additional analysis explores whether emotion matching is related to other forms of early matching behaviour. Emotion regulation can be defined as the ability to modify affective experience. This thesis outlines an experimental procedure for assessing whether infants use spontaneous blinking and gaze aversion to self-regulate the intensity of emotional experience. Potential relationships between emotion regulation and temperament, as well as other forms of regulatory behaviour, are also explored. In addition, links between emotion regulation and emotion matching are investigated. Results demonstrated that from 3-months-old infants are able to match both happy and sad emotional expressions, but that emotion matching ability selectively declines with age. Furthermore, emotion matching was found not to be related to other forms of early matching behaviour. Results also identified spontaneous blinking and gaze aversion as self-regulation strategies utilised in early infancy. In addition, a relationship was identified between regulation ability and higher scores of temperament shyness. However, emotion regulation was found not to be linked to other forms of regulatory behaviour. Finally, a potential relationship was identified between emotion regulation ability early in infancy and infant ability to match happy expression later in life. These results are considered in relation to previous literature, examining the processes and theories behind emotion matching and emotion regulation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Emotion matching ; Emotion regulation ; Infancy ; First steps.
Funders: Leverhulme Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:15

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