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Exploring the role of COVID-19 pandemic-related changes in social interactions on preschoolers' emotion labeling


Wermelinger, Stephanie; Moersdorf, Lea; Ammann, Simona; Daum, Moritz M (2022). Exploring the role of COVID-19 pandemic-related changes in social interactions on preschoolers' emotion labeling. Frontiers in Psychology, 13:942535.

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic people were increasingly obliged to wear facial masks and to reduce the number of people they met in person. In this study, we asked how these changes in social interactions are associated with young children's emotional development, specifically their emotion recognition via the labeling of emotions. Preschoolers labeled emotional facial expressions of adults (Adult Faces Task) and children (Child Faces Task) in fully visible faces. In addition, we assessed children's COVID-19-related experiences (i.e., time spent with people wearing masks, number of contacts without masks) and recorded children's gaze behavior during emotion labeling. We compared different samples of preschoolers (4.00–5.75 years): The data for the no-COVID-19-experience sample were taken from studies conducted before the pandemic (Adult Faces Task: N = 40; Child Faces Task: N = 30). The data for the with-COVID-19-experience sample (N = 99) were collected during the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland between June and November 2021. The results did not indicate differences in children's labeling behavior between the two samples except for fearful adult faces. Children with COVID-19-experience more often labeled fearful faces correctly compared to children with no COVID-19 experience. Furthermore, we found no relations between children's labeling behavior, their individual COVID-19-related experiences, and their gaze behavior. These results suggest that, even though the children had experienced differences in the amount and variability of facial input due to the pandemic, they still received enough input from visible faces to be able to recognize and label different emotions.

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic people were increasingly obliged to wear facial masks and to reduce the number of people they met in person. In this study, we asked how these changes in social interactions are associated with young children's emotional development, specifically their emotion recognition via the labeling of emotions. Preschoolers labeled emotional facial expressions of adults (Adult Faces Task) and children (Child Faces Task) in fully visible faces. In addition, we assessed children's COVID-19-related experiences (i.e., time spent with people wearing masks, number of contacts without masks) and recorded children's gaze behavior during emotion labeling. We compared different samples of preschoolers (4.00–5.75 years): The data for the no-COVID-19-experience sample were taken from studies conducted before the pandemic (Adult Faces Task: N = 40; Child Faces Task: N = 30). The data for the with-COVID-19-experience sample (N = 99) were collected during the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland between June and November 2021. The results did not indicate differences in children's labeling behavior between the two samples except for fearful adult faces. Children with COVID-19-experience more often labeled fearful faces correctly compared to children with no COVID-19 experience. Furthermore, we found no relations between children's labeling behavior, their individual COVID-19-related experiences, and their gaze behavior. These results suggest that, even though the children had experienced differences in the amount and variability of facial input due to the pandemic, they still received enough input from visible faces to be able to recognize and label different emotions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Psychology
Language:English
Date:28 September 2022
Deposited On:31 Jan 2023 15:45
Last Modified:29 May 2024 01:42
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.942535
PubMed ID:36248559
Project Information:
  • : FunderFoundation for Research in Science and the Humanities
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)