The long-term objective of the proposed research is to provide reliable documentation of the infant's developing ability to discriminate and comprehend the emotional expressions of others. It focuses specifically on infant sensitivity to vocal expressions of emotion. The traditional emphasis on the face as the primary site for the expression of affect has contributed to the neglect of the voice as a source of emotional information despite its acknowledged importance in mother-infant communication. Three as yet unresolved questions are addressed: 1) Given that the mother's characteristic speech to infants, with its exaggerated intonation contours and heightened pitch, may be an especially salient stimulus for infants, will young infants discriminate the mother's emotional vocalizations sooner than those of a stranger? 2) Can infants interrelate vocal and visual aspect of the same emotional expression and, if so, do they achieve such intermodal matching on the basis of concrete relations such as temporal synchrony or on the basis of more abstract """"""""meaning"""""""" relations? 3) Do infants understand the action implications of a vocal expression--i.e., that a cheerful voice signals friendly behavior? A variety of procedures--habituation-recovery, intermodal matching, and familiarization-novelty--will be used to answer these questions. The results are expected to have implications for social perception in infancy, mother-infant interaction, and emotional as well as cognitive/linguistic development.
|Caron, A J; Caron, R F; MacLean, D J (1988) Infant discrimination of naturalistic emotional expressions: the role of face and voice. Child Dev 59:604-16|