UBC Theses and Dissertations
Recognition of emotional facial expression by abusive mothers and their children During, Sara May
The purpose of this investigation was to examine the ability of abused children and their abusive mothers to decode facial expressions of emotion relative to non-abused children and their mothers and to assess the intradyadic relationship of these abilities. Forty-six children and their mothers (23 normal and 23 abusive dyads) were individually presented with a series of photographs of six posed emotional expressions, and asked to make a first-, second- and third-choice for each target emotion. Results indicated that abused children were less accurate than non-abused children in the identification of emotional expression, that younger children were less accurate that older children, and that children were less accurate with pictures of adults versus pictures of children. In comparison to the non-abused children, the abused children also appeared to be less orderly and systematic in their structuring of emotions. Conversely, the results indicated that abusive and non-abusive mothers did not significantly differ in the identification of emotional expression, nor in the structuring of the emotion domain. Additionally, abusive mothers did not show significantly greater unrealistic expectations of their children's behavior than did non-abusive mothers, but did perceive their children as having more behavior problems than did non-abusive mothers. The results were discussed in terms of issues related to maternal and child behavior and cognitions, patterning of emotional recognition responses, and the specific methodology employed in this study.
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