Inferring Emotional Reactions in Social Situations Differences in Children With Language Impairment Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2003
Inferring Emotional Reactions in Social Situations
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Janet A. Ford
    Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
  • Linda M. Milosky
    Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
  • Contact author: Janet Ford, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 805 South Crouse Avenue, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244.
    Contact author: Janet Ford, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 805 South Crouse Avenue, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: jsford@syr.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2003
Inferring Emotional Reactions in Social Situations
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2003, Vol. 46, 21-30. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/002)
History: Received January 3, 2002 , Accepted July 25, 2002
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2003, Vol. 46, 21-30. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/002)
History: Received January 3, 2002; Accepted July 25, 2002
Web of Science® Times Cited: 45

Anticipating and responding to a partner’s emotional reactions are key components in the comprehension of daily social discourse. Kindergarten children with language impairment (LI) and age-matched controls (CA) were asked to label facial expressions depicting 1 of 4 emotions (happy, surprised, sad, mad) and to identify those expressions when given a verbal label. Children then chose among these facial expressions when asked to infer emotional reactions from stories (3- sentence scenarios) presented in 1 of 3 modalities: verbal, visual, and combined. Although all children were able to identify and label the facial expressions, children with LI had difficulty integrating emotion knowledge with event context in order to infer a character’s feelings. When these inferencing errors occurred, children in the LI group were more likely to provide emotions of a different valence (e.g., substituting happy for mad) than were children in the CA group. Inferencing ability was related to language comprehension performance on a standardized test. The findings suggest that inferencing errors made by children with LI occur during the early stages of social processing and may contribute to social difficulties often experienced by this group of children.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported in part by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant DC01649 to the second author. The authors wish to thank the Syracuse City and Liverpool school districts, as well as Kynda Montessori in Syracuse, NY, for assistance with participant recruitment.
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