Emotional facial expressions are very special for us as humans. We might see hundreds of faces in the course of a day and millions in the course of a lifetime. They can tell us when a situation is safe or risky, and they can give us important information about how to behave in everyday social interactions. Many researchers interested in studying human emotions rely on sets of photographs of adults posing the various emotional facial expressions. Although these sets provide us with a useful tool for studying emotions, they are limited in that they generally only include photographs of one specific demographic -- namely Caucasian adults. The current proposal introduces a brand new set of emotional facial expressions -- The Child Affective Facial Expression set (CAFE). The CAFE set includes photographs of 190 preschool children posing for 6 basic emotions -- sadness, happiness, surprise, anger, disgust, and fear -- plus a neutral expression. The set is also racially and ethnically diverse, featuring Caucasian, African American, Asian, Latino (Hispanic), and South Asian (Indian / Bangladeshi / Pakistani) children. The proposed experiments are aimed at validating this set so that it can be disseminated to the greater research community. In two experiments, 4-5-, 6-7-, 8-9- and 10-11-year-old children and a group of adults will be asked to identify each facial expression in the set twice. From these ratings a validity score (the accuracy of each participant) and a reliability score (the consistency of each participant between the two ratings) will be calculated for each facial expression.

Once the data have been collected, the CAFE set will be made available for free to the scientific community to use as a research tool. Given the prominence of research on emotional facial expressions, this stimulus set will promote scientific infrastructure and could contribute to several domains of psychological research, including developmental, social, cognitive, and clinical. Collectively the findings will result in a controlled, validated stimulus set of preschool-aged children making a variety of emotional facial expressions. Ultimately, research using this set could provide us with important insights into how we come to understand human emotions.

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Rutgers University Newark
United States
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