Developmental changes in emotion recognition from full-light and point-light displays of body movement

Ross, P.D., Polson, L. and Grosbras, M.-H. (2012) Developmental changes in emotion recognition from full-light and point-light displays of body movement. PLoS ONE, 7(9), e44815. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044815) (PMID:22970310) (PMCID:PMC3438163)

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To date, research on the development of emotion recognition has been dominated by studies on facial expression interpretation; very little is known about children's ability to recognize affective meaning from body movements. In the present study, we acquired simultaneous video and motion capture recordings of two actors portraying four basic emotions (Happiness Sadness, Fear and Anger). One hundred and seven primary and secondary school children (aged 4–17) and 14 adult volunteers participated in the study. Each participant viewed the full-light and point-light video clips and was asked to make a forced-choice as to which emotion was being portrayed. As a group, children performed worse than adults for both point-light and full-light conditions. Linear regression showed that both age and lighting condition were significant predictors of performance in children. Using piecewise regression, we found that a bilinear model with a steep improvement in performance until 8.5 years of age, followed by a much slower improvement rate through late childhood and adolescence best explained the data. These findings confirm that, like for facial expression, adolescents' recognition of basic emotions from body language is not fully mature and seems to follow a non-linear development. This is in line with observations of non-linear developmental trajectories for different aspects of human stimuli processing (voices and faces), perhaps suggesting a shift from one perceptual or cognitive strategy to another during adolescence. These results have important implications to understanding the maturation of social cognition.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ross, Mr Patrick and Grosbras, Dr Marie-Helene
Authors: Ross, P.D., Polson, L., and Grosbras, M.-H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
Published Online:10 September 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The Authors
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 7(9):e44815
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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