The purpose of our study was to determine age-related differences in understanding emotions in middle and late childhood and early adolescence. We wanted to determine whether children aged 7, 9 and 11 (N = 54) differed in the complexity of their understanding of individual areas of basic emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger and fear in other people and whether their understanding depended on their gender and the educational background of their parents. Children gave answers in a semi-structured interview specifically designed for this study. Based on the results obtained from qualitative and quantitative analysis and their consistency with the findings of other researchers, we concluded that 1) in middle and late childhood and early adolescence the understanding of basic emotions increases in complexity and that changes do not occur in all areas simultaneously; 2) the four basic emotions develop gradually, with more complex interpretations being added to simpler ones; 3) there are no characteristic gender-based differences in the complexity of understanding in most areas of emotion nor are there any differences between children and adolescents with parents of different educational backgrounds.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.